Ramadan is observed during the ninth month of the year in remembrance of the Prophet Muhammad who fasted when the Quran was first shown to him. This Muslim holiday is celebrated by fasting each day between dawn (fajr) and sunset (maghri) prayers. Once Ramadan concludes, the holiday Eid al-Fitr begins which is the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. During Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, different projects and events are held to help those in need or who cannot afford to participate in the holiday activities. An example of these activities is iftar, a part of Ramadan when the fast is broken after the maghri prayer.
Youth Exchange and Study (YES) alumni came together again this year for their various Ramadan iftar events throughout the country of Nigeria. The goal for this year was to reach out to more people throughout the country. They also hoped to carry out the project in 9 states which is one more state than the year before.
To raise donations and awareness of the events that were being hosted, alumni put together flyers to share on the YES Alumni Association - Nigeria (YAA Nigeria) social media accounts. The alumni wanted to put more smiles on the faces of orphans and less privileged children than the year before in hopes of extending the love they preach everyday, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Two major projects were called “Feed the Orphans” and “Sharing Food, Spreading Love”. The projects took place in 7 different states throughout Nigeria. The goal was to focus on providing a meal to the most underprivileged population of children between the ages of 2-15 years old. This association was able to reach over 700 children with all of their events from May 28th - June 1st.
In Borno State, participants provided food packs to orphaned children on the street and participants in Katsina iftar with displaced persons at the Kankara IDP camp. Alumni and volunteers from the Gombe state held a discussion about the importance of education and staying in school during their meal with 40 orphans at the Da’awah Children’s Home in Tunfure. Over 130 children in Makarantar Malam Isiya and Wadata Mosque in Makurdi enjoyed fried rice and beef with the Sokoto and Benue alumni. Children in the pediatric ward of Barau Dikko Hospital in Kaduna shared snacks and joy with the Kaduna State alumni and a monetary donation was also given to a patient at the hospital who needed blood but could not cover the cost of the bill. The Taraba state held their event at a mosque and gave out 150 packed meals and water for the children to break their fast with.
The group raised about $100 dollars from alumni and other external donations throughout the events held. Ishaku Abner (YES alum 2010, Nigeria, hosted in Coon Rapids, IA) who participated in the “Sharing Food, Spreading Love” project said that next year he’d like to help improve the reach of the program.
“I think we will possibly have a different approach like reaching families in need instead of only orphans," Abner said.
Afterwards, alumni posted on the YAA Nigeria social media accounts thanking everyone that helped with the different projects. They also said that the glowing faces of the children and the appreciation from their mothers was the greatest response after the events. Children throughout Nigeria left with big fat smiles on their faces and alumni went home feeling joyful. Overall, the events were very successful and there is room to grow for these events in the future.