In the 26 years since Ali was forced to leave Somalia, his heart and his thoughts have never strayed far from his war-ravaged homeland – especially during Ramadan.
Civil war was among the reasons Ali left the eastern Africa nation in September of 1992. He relocated to Ethiopia where he work as a translator at the Canadian Embassy in the capital of Addis Ababa. A decade later, he resettled in Canada as a refugee. Decades of armed conflict compounded by drought and other natural hazards continue to pose immense challenges to the most vulnerable in Somalia.
Decades of armed conflict compounded by drought and other natural hazards continue to pose immense challenges to the most vulnerable in Somalia.
An estimated 2.1 million children, women and men are displaced within Somalia, while more than 870,000 Somalis are registered as refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. As of April, only 17 per cent of the US$186.4 million in funding requested for aid in Somalia has been received.
During the holy month of Ramadan, a sacred time of generosity and charity for more than one billion Muslims worldwide, Ali expresses gratitude for his adopted home while thinking of those in dire need in Somalia.
“You have to be generous, you have to give the person who doesn’t have anything,” said Ali.
“For example, if you want to give some help outside of Canada… so many people are dying in Somalia. They don’t have food, they don’t have homes. So you can send some money for the sake of Allah to help them.”
For Ali, some of the most joyous occasions during Ramadan are a nightly occurrence when the time arrives for Iftar, the meal eaten after sunset by Muslims to break their fast.
“We start fasting… it depends on the time, 4:30 am all the way to 7:30 or 7:35. When time is finished, people are sharing food, sharing, drinking,” Ali recalls, with sweet dates and savoury samosas among the items on the menu.
“Even if somebody who is passing by the street comes, everybody (is) sharing. All of the people are brothers and sisters.
“Any relatives or friends who come to my house shares all the meals they have. Anyone who comes to the mosque to pray can eat freely.”
Ali prays that this freedom can be extended to the displaced people in his homeland.
Please dedicate your Sadaqah to help displaced and refugee families receive urgently needed and life-saving assistance during Ramadan.
To find out more, please visit www.unhcr.ca/ramadan