Feature News – Iftar Meets Community!
Iftar Meets Community!
Every year during the Holy Month of Ramadan, Istanbul&I hosts its special project Iftar&Community that aims to provide iftar to disadvantaged families and create a sense of community by ensuring a fun atmosphere for children in a local park. In previous years, Istanbul&I volunteers painted children’s faces and played games with them before iftar, and then joined them in their meal as they all broke their fast together. Last year, Iftar&Community activities could not be held due to the outbreak of COVID. However, this year, the project was started up again with the required safety precautions under the management of Melis Büyük and Bashir Sadiq. When asked about this year’s Iftar&Community, Bashir said, “From the smiles on those children’s faces after getting their faces painted to the grateful looks on their parent’s faces after receiving freshly cooked iftar meals, seeing pictures from previous Iftar&Community projects over the years made me eager to join this year as a project manager.”
This year, the project is successfully being carried out in collaboration with Yusra Community Center, a center for displaced people in Fatih, Istanbul, and is being done to serve the families that frequent the center. Istanbul&I raised a sufficient amount of donations and Zakat, which was used to pay for the meal ingredients and for two Syrian women at Yusra Community Center who cooked the food that was later distributed to the families for free. Moreover, 200 TL BIM supermarket vouchers and 100 TL LC Waikiki gift cards were distributed along with iftar, which allowed the families to purchase essential clothing for the upcoming eid.
Istanbul&I volunteers dedicated their time each week to help the women at the center cook food. The meals included salad, soup and a main course. The food was then packaged and distributed to the families with the help of our volunteers. Since Yusra Community Center prides itself in avoiding plastic, the families had to bring their own bags to take the prepackaged meals home.
The project was meant to be carried out throughout Ramadan every Friday. However, recent lockdown measures in Istanbul prompted the project to be partially cancelled and readjusted to continue providing the families with meals and donations. Iftar&Community was able to successfully carry out its activities according to plan for two weeks, but has a new plan for the last two weeks. Keeping in line with Turkey’s pandemic measures, meals will no longer be distributed and, instead, the cost of the meals will be added to the BIM and LC Waikiki cards to be distributed to the families. Istanbul&I volunteers won’t be able to join the project anymore, but all the funds raised will be given to Yusra Community Center so they may continue helping families during Ramadan.
When asked about the success of the project, Melis Büyük replied, “This year, because of COVID, we had to settle on a lot of aspects of the project, especially interaction with the community, which was kind of sad I think. Many of the volunteers were really disappointed when they didn’t get the opportunity to volunteer and help. Yusra Community Center knew the families and their individual needs really well, and offered us a lot of knowledge. I loved being part of this project, and I love the amount of donations we collected to help feed families.” Needless to say, despite all sudden changes, the efforts of Iftar&Community will be continuing effectively towards the initial goal until the end of Ramadan, and every donation will reach the families in need.