Nfld. & Labrador

Muslims in St. John's mark Ramadan fast by feeding others

Volunteers carried out a St. John's instalment of the Instagram charity campaign Feed a Homie on Monday.

Volunteers hand out hundreds of packages for 'Feed a Homie' initiative

Volunteers organize meal packs as they're handed out at the Gathering Place in St. John's. (CBC)

A group of Muslim volunteers took a social media campaign to the streets of St. John's on Monday, feeding homeless people in the city as part of an Instagram charity known as Feed a Homie.

The concept began with the Instagram account "feedahomie," which states it provides $100 US to help an organization from every province and state in Canada and the U.S. feed someone. 

A few friends in St. John's saw the account and were inspired to create a local chapter during Ramadan.

"Every year we try to do something to give back, because Ramadan's a reflection to be thankful for what God has given us throughout the year," said volunteer Boshra Mohamed.

The team contacted the Gathering Place, a non-profit organization in St. John's dedicated to helping the homeless.

"When we gave them a call, we were actually shocked at how willing they were not to only work with us, but how grateful they were that we even called," said Mohamed, who said a Gathering Place organizer told her a lot of people forget the homeless.

"They kind of remember them at Christmas, and then it kind of tapers off."

It's about gratitude

The group spent Monday afternoon at the Gathering Place delivering the packages they had put together through their fundraising, which included food plus a few toiletries.

Volunteer Raahyma Ahmed said her Feed a Homie experience has taught her about the extent of St. John's homeless problem.

"It doesn't mean you live out on the streets. People can be homeless because they don't have their own house, but they could be staying with their friends. And they're still needy, but it's not obvious to the rest of the world," she said.

The volunteers gave out several hundred packed meals. (CBC)

Ahmed also said it helped put the dawn-to-dusk fasting of Ramadan into perspective.

"When people say, 'Oh, it's such a challenge, it must be so hard' — it's not really. What we're doing is very easy. It could be much worse," she said.

"What I learned personally, is just to be grateful for what I have, because lots of people don't have a home to go to."

Mohamed agreed.

"At the end of the night, you have a huge meal, we're all fed. So we're kind of thinking, 'We have this, but lots of people don't.' So we just want to give back."

Raahyma Ahmed, left, and Boshra Mohamed say Ramadan is a time to be grateful for what they have and to find ways to give back. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

'Effortless' fundraising

Giving back turned out to be easier than organizers expected.

Mohamed described their fundraising work as "effortless"— after placing a donation box at the local mosque, the team quickly raised close to $1,700. 

"The community really rallied up behind us and they were an amazing support," said volunteer Nasser Ali, who added that after buying the necessities for Monday's lunch, the leftover cash was donated to the Gathering Place.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Caroline Hillier and Stephen Miller