In Ramadan 2015, we had a full house at Nisa Homes and at one of our weekly meetings we asked the ladies what their plans were for Eid. There was an awkward silence as they each looked to their hands or into the distance. One of them finally told us that they can’t afford to do anything. Another chimed in that she hadn’t told her kids when Eid was because she didn’t have anything to give them or anywhere to take them. This broke my heart. Into a million little pieces.
I remembered when I was younger and barely able to sleep the night before Eid. I would lay in bed staring at my brand new Eid clothes, ironed in preparation for Eid prayers, then breakfast with our family and friends and the activities we planned from paint balling to going to the CNE or the movies and even going on trips. But I was mainly awake in anticipation for the Eid gifts I was hoping to get and the money from my parents and grandparents! Oh, and of course we can’t forget the candy and yummies!
I couldn’t even imagine what it would mean for others not to have this experience. Especially growing up where Christmas was THE thing but our parents always told us, oh we have TWO christmas’, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. But for these children there wasn’t going to be anything!
And then I thought of the women themselves! How difficult it must be for them to have to lie to their kids because they had nothing to give them and nothing to make the day special in anyway. As a parent, not being able to give your child something is heartbreaking.
We decided to plan a barbecue at the house and get candy and sweets. But subhanAllah only days later we received an update from Sudduf that they had been getting more donations than they imagined! Not only could they help out with our barbecue, they could get every single woman and child a gift as well as gifts for their families as a whole!
The day before Eid we went to Salam Shop to get the gifts and were in awe! SubhanAllah they made the most beautiful baskets full of fun, education and practical gifts from chocolate, yarn and needles, journals, mugs, Islamic art prints and gift cards for a spa day and for grocery shopping. Each woman even got a bouquet of flowers! The kids each got a movie, toy and video game.
We hadn’t told the women that Salam Shop was getting them Eid gifts and decided to surprise them the night before Eid. As we walked in with the huge baskets, the women didn’t believe they were for them. After the initial joy they couldn’t stop crying. They peeked around the basket wrapping, ooh-ing, aah-ing and giggling at the things they were discovering. I felt like we were all transported back to Eid when we were kids. Not only did we make their Eid Al Fitr 2015, but they all agreed this was the best Eid they ever had!
We gave the mothers the beautifully wrapped Eid gifts for the kids which they would surprise them with the next morning along with a bag of candy, balloons and books for each. They were too excited though and ended up giving some of the gifts to the kids that night. Word is the kids devoured the candy, cake and chocolate in less than an hour!
Alhamdulilah for the feeling of being able to bring such wide and bright smiles to the faces of those 12 women and children. Very little can compare to the feeling of bringing joy, relief and happiness to your sisters and brothers on this most special of days. It’s a blessing.
Yasmine Youssef is the coordinator of Nisa Homes and works alongside Zena Chaudhry to ensure the transitional home women’s needs are met. They work tirelessly night and day to empower women to regain confidence, means, and ability to start afresh.
To support Nisa Homes this Ramadan, you can donate at the shop or online here.