By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Islamic aid organizations in South Africa have started distributing food packages to less fortunate fasting Muslims in Africa and other parts of the world, so they have enough to eat during the holy month of Ramadan.
Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency this week, Hassan Choonara, regional director of the South Africa-based African Muslims Agency (AMA), said, “We have distributed thousands of uncooked food packages in Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa.’’
He said his organization is also providing cooked food for Iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast, and the suhoor pre-dawn meals eaten before the daily fast begins.
“We expect to feed over 3 million Muslims by the end of this Ramadan. We believe it’s our responsibility to ensure that less fortunate Muslims observe their fast without thinking about where they will get their next meal,” Choonara told Anadolu Agency.
Most Southern African countries are grappling with a severe drought that has led to high food prices due to low production.
The majority of Muslims in Malawi and Mozambique are subsistence farmers who have been hit hard by the drought.
During Ramadan, adult Muslims – except for the sick and those undertaking journeys – abstain from eating, drinking and smoking between dawn and dusk.
The Al-Imdaad Foundation, another South Africa-registered nonprofit relief group, says it will distribute food to 16 countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
“This Ramadan we have a list of key projects and we are focused on distributing food in 16 countries that are affected by war, poverty, and natural disasters,” Al-Imdaad’s Hamza Badrudeen told Anadolu Agency.
He said some of the countries they are focusing on include Syria, Palestine, and Yemen, along with Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, and India, among others.
“We have started distribution in some of these countries and more aid is currently on the way,” he said Thursday via telephone.
Meanwhile, Islamic Relief South Africa, a branch of the UK-headquartered international aid charity Islamic Relief Worldwide, said on its website that it had already done food distribution in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The group has been encouraging Muslims to donate money to help feed impoverished and suffering Muslims such as those trapped in conflicts in both Africa and the Middle East.
The charities are also distributing jackets and blankets in South Africa, where it is now winter.
“Since Ramadan is in winter, Muslims will not only be feeling hungry but also cold. So we are also distributing warm winter clothing,” said Africa Muslims Agency’s Hassan Choonara.
South Africa is home to over a dozen Muslim humanitarian organizations that work to address the needs of its local, regional, and international Muslim community. Most of the charities get their funding by appealing to communities for donations.