Durham University’s Islamic Society (Isoc) enjoyed a fruitful Ramadan, putting in a combined 1,000 hours to deliver over 1,700 free meals around Durham as part of its DeliverIftar scheme.
With the community-centred element of Ramadan inhibited by Covid-19, the society raised nearly £7,000 from public and college donations to support fasting Muslims.
Durham Students’ Union (DSU), Experience Durham and Castle, Hild Bede, St. Aidan’s and Hatfield colleges contributed a combined £3,300, while public donations provided a further £3,377.
The meals, most of which were prepared in Covid-secure home-based kitchens, involved a wide range of cuisines: from South Asian and Middle Eastern, to Chinese, English and pizza.
To achieve the feat, Isoc collaborated extensively with halal local businesses Sweet and Spices, Aryana Cuisine and Pizza King, with all meals delivered just before sunset by student and local volunteers.
And on Eid-Al-Fitr, the feast day which marks the end of a month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting, the Society handed 250 goodie bags and 100 meals out around the city.
The initiative was led by the society’s president Saabir Petker and acting vice-president Thaddeus ‘Teddy’ Dominic, both of whom aimed to expand upon last year’s nonetheless significant offering of 20 meals a day.
“This year, we had much more preparation time, and expected to provide over 50 meals per day, but we were in a similar financial position as last year,” Saabir explained.
“There was no hesitation on Ted’s or my part to just go for it and push for funding through our website to provide these meals for everyone who was asking for it – no exceptions.”
After 10 days, the society’s funds were drying up, but they persevered and engaged with colleges and Experience Durham to add to the coffers.
“We still did not have enough funding to pay for all of the meals, so they ended up being discounted and donated by our lovely, generous volunteers,” said Saabir. “It was so beautiful to see this work.”
Thaddeus concurred: “Being non-Muslim, having the opportunity to serve the Islamic community has allowed me to dive headlong into engaging and immersing in their culture, traditions and cuisines, while benefitting people coming from different walks of life.”
Image: Durham University Islamic Society