Glendale Heights, IL - September 16, 2009 - As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr next week, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Muslims in Chicago and its suburbs reached out to refugees of all faiths in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Chicago and Glendale Heights, distributing more than 1100 toys through the "Eid is for Everyone" campaign.
"The Muslim community really came together to make this campaign such a success. Our goal was 150 toys, the community gave us more than 1100! With all the money constraints that refugees have, Eid presents for children are not affordable, so hopefully this drive will help spread a little happiness," said Naazish YarKhan, a mother of two, and founder of Refugee Assistance Program (RAP). RAP partnered with the Islamic Circle of North America Helping Hands (ICNA) to distribute the toys to several hundred refugee children from Africa, Iraq and Burma. RAP also raised several thousand dollars online and via checks as zakat or the obligatory charity that Muslims must pay on their savings.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which follows the lunar cycle. Muslims avoid food, drink and sex between dawn and sunset daily during the month and good deeds are considered especially meritorious during this time of the year. Charity is strongly emphasized.
"Eid is for Everyone" also raised winter wear and kitchen kits for newly arriving refugees of all faiths. "Imagine what it would be like for someone who has never experienced below zero temps and does not have warm clothing," said Kiran Ansari, Lead Organizer of the Eid is for Everyone Campaign. "We also received donations of complete Kitchen Kits because many of the new refugee families do not have basic kitchen supplies to prepare meals for their families.”
"It is especially significant at this time, when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, to remember Prophet Mohammed's saying that, 'Whoever goes to bed while his neighbor is hungry is not a true believer,” said Amina Tahera, a volunteer with RAP.
RAP focuses on helping refugees of all faiths who have escaped war and victimization in Iraq, Burma and Africa. Refugee Assistance Programs coordinates with refugee leaders to stayed informed about the needs of various refugee communities. Responses include providing these families – all living far below the poverty line - with mentorship, education-related expenses, rent assistance, driving lessons, groceries, personal care products, medical help and gifts for children. The group works in collaboration with resettlement agencies, state organizations and NGO's.