Feature News – Iftar&Community
Giving Season is Coming!
As the Holy Month of Ramadan, a month of giving, doing good, and connection approaches, Istanbul&I is preparing to reintroduce one of its oldest, most wonderful volunteering projects: Iftar&Community. But, first, what exactly is Iftar&Community, how did it start, and why is it important?
Wait, what is Iftar&Community?
Iftar&Community has been a crucial part of Istanbul&I as an NGO and a community since its early birth in 2016. The first Iftar&Community was organized before Istanbul&I even had an office, official NGO status, or a large number of volunteers. Despite all that, volunteers from all over Istanbul were passionate enough to bring this project to life. Since then, every year during Ramadan, volunteers from Istanbul&I and the greater Istanbul community would gather on weekends in Sururi Park to distribute food (iftar) to children in disadvantaged neighborhoods in order for them to break their fast. Iftar, however, wasn’t all of it: volunteers would arrive hours before iftar time and spend their time getting to know the children, playing with them, and painting their faces, really demonstrating the ‘Community’ part of the title Iftar&Community!
So, why is Iftar&Community so important?
Iftar&Community is so essential to Istanbul&I because the meals and the positive atmosphere of love and peace we provide to disadvantaged children creates a sense of community amongst them within the comfort of their culture and traditions. This is highly important for the children, many of whom are refugees and/or from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, as it fosters in them a sense of belonging and acceptance of themselves, their identities, and their cultures. This has long-term positive effects on the children, as it grants them an experience of normal childhood when the world so often strips them of their humanity and joy. Moreover, the ‘Community’ part of the title Iftar&Community also includes the volunteers themselves, giving them, too, a place to interact and connect with each other and the children in a positive environment.
Iftar&Community is, no doubt, one of the projects Istanbul&I is most proud to organize. Its importance in the community is also undeniable. Unfortunately, the Iftar&Community of 2020 had to be cancelled due to the sudden and crippling start of the pandemic. However, Istanbul&I is very excited to organize Iftar&Community in 2021! Of course, necessary health precautions will be followed to ensure the safety of both children and volunteers, requiring Istanbul&I to revamp the project to meet the unique circumstances we are living in.
This year, Istanbul&I is partnering with Yusra Community Center to carry out Iftar&Community. Our volunteers will assist the Syrian women of Yusra Community Center to cook and distribute the 50 TL iftar meals, which will contain a traditional Ramadan three-course meal of soup, dates, bread, a main dish, and a Syrian dessert. This both provides free meals to people in need and provides a source of income for refugee women. Additionally, Istanbul&I will provide supermarket gift vouchers to the families that pick up their prepackaged iftar meals. In order to cover all operational costs required to cook and provide these daily meals to the children, Istanbul&I is now accepting donations to its bank account in both TL and USD. As Ramadan is the month of giving, please consider donating and helping make this Ramadan a blessed month for countless disadvantaged children and families!