Each person asked about Ramadan is sure to describe its meaning in their own considered, subjective terms. Jawad Hussain described what Ramadan meant to him, as about 120 SSI Community Support Program (CSP) clients broke their daily fast at a Community Kitchen Iftar meal.
“Ramadan means to fast, but not only from food; (it’s to fast) with eyes, with mind; we have to be good person,” he said. “It means to be really nice, gentle man. You make a special effort. If you practise Ramadan, you believe it will bring some change in your personality.”
Jawad came to Australia from Pakistan and, like most people at the Iftar, is awaiting assessment for refugee status. He is a regular at Community Kitchens who volunteers to prepare food and set up and tidy the community centre.
SSI Coordinator Janna Sharples observed the Ramadan fasting period for the first time on Wednesday, July 16. “I wanted to have some understanding of what my staff members go through during Ramadan,” she said. It was an opportunity to learn more about Ramadan.”
After rising at 4.30am to eat breakfast, Janna said – with comical anecdote – that going without water had been the most difficult aspect of fasting. “I’ve learnt that you really can’t live without water,” she said, “no food has been fine but water is a struggle. I actually watered the office plants hoping that it would somehow quench my own thirst.”
But at 5.25pm, Janna could pour herself a drop. She was not alone as people queued out the door at Auburn Centre for Community to break their fast with a feast that started with dates and included pizza, pasta and vegetables.
The food was donated by the Mission of Hope organisation, whose volunteers also served and gave food packages and blankets to CSP clients. Mission of Hope Executive and Project Coordinator Feroz Sattar said the organisation had collected some 30,000 donations and packaged about 1,000 food hampers during Ramadan. Its volunteers had also served 120 hot meals to families “doing it tough”, he said.
After enjoying a meal and helping to clean and organise, Jawad commented on the day’s challenges. “Yes, it is difficult but it is very good to be a good man,” he said. It is not only for religious people but for all people.”