Sharing the spirit of giving this Ramadan, public relations professional Kelly Harvarde and her photographer husband, Alex Jeffries, are providing almost 900 people with food packs every day outside their Dubai home.
“We make the packs ourselves, all of the neighbors help and work together to make the packs and sometimes strangers come to help,” Havarde told The National.
“We realized this was an easier way to get more food to more people. Just putting food in the fridge was a little bit limiting, we had so many people coming we couldn’t cope with the demand unless we made the packs.”
It all started when the couple decided to put a Ramadan fridge outside their Jumeirah One home.
Every day, along with their neighbors, Harvarde and her family hand out pre-made iftar packs to local workers. Volunteers arrive each night from about 5 pm, ready to hand out meals to the queue of people that then forms down the street.
Each bag has a packet of instant noodles, fresh fruit, biscuits, a bottle of water and a carton of juice or laban.
Ramadan public fridges started in 2016 as a brainchild of Australian expat Sumayyah Sayed who put a fridge stocked with free food and water on her front porch in Ramadan.
The initiative grew organically during the last Ramadans and is back to help the needy this summer.
It seeks to engage more donors to help the needy during Ramadan by donating packed food, water, and fresh fruit.
The initiative is spread across Dubai in areas like Jebel Ali, Marina, Sports City, Umm Suqueim, Jumeirah, Al Barsha, Meydan, and Midriff.
On May 19, halfway through Ramadan, the community handed out 852 packs in one night and had fed more than 12,000 people so far this year.
“When we run out, we have to make more packs, we don’t want to let people go home [empty handed] if there is a shortage,” Fatima Masoud Alawadhi, a 21-year-old Dubai-based finance student, said.
Nada Masoud, sister to Fatima, said they were involved in the effort “Because of Kelly, our beautiful neighbor!”
“She gathers us all together, we help each other as one community,” Nada, who is also a finance student, adds.
For her, Ramadan is “four weeks, with people gathering to fast and eat together, it’s a month of prayers and community … Often, people’s busy lives get in the way, but during Ramadan people make time to see each other and spend time together.”
“I have been participating in this Ramadan fridge for two years, and inshallah, more,” her sister Fatima adds. “It is part of our duty to help others. We feed around 700 to 800 workers per day, that is 700 to 800 smiles per day.”
“We don’t only do this during Ramadan, we continue giving out meals to those in need 12 months of the year, but Ramadan brings people together,” she concludes.
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. It is expected to start this year on Wednesday, May 16.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint, and good deeds.