July 25, 2020
An estimated 821 million people around the world do not have enough of the food they need to live an healthy, productive life. One in every nine people goes to bed hungry each night, according to the World Health Organization. That includes nearly half of all preschool-age children. In that age group, almost half of all deaths are due to under-nutrition — a staggering 3 million children every year.
People living in poverty — on less than $1.25 (approx. R20.00) per day — struggle to afford safe, nutritious food to feed themselves and their families. As they grow hungrier they become weak, prone to illness and less productive, making it difficult to earn a living.As Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread around the world, millions more are being placed under threat, especially countries most vulnerable to the health and economic impact of the virus. People fleeing conflict, living in poverty or without access to healthcare face greater risk from this pandemic.
Every year Islamic Relief donors participate in the blessed and beloved act of Qurbani for the sake of Allah, sharing their blessing with many of those families by sending them a gift of quality, fresh meat during the days of Eid.
This fresh, quality halaal meat which our donors share is often the only meat the recipients eat all year. It’s both a rare holiday treat and a nutritional boost.
Qurbani—also known as Udhiyah—is Islamic Relief’s largest-scale global food program.
When Islamic Relief’s Programs Specialist, Bilal Aslam, visited a health project in Jordan, Doctors informed him that anemia is common among Syrian refugees.
“They said people will be dizzy, they’ll have headaches and feel lethargic, and that affects their productivity,” he said. “Imagine if that’s the condition for a child who’s trying to study and be productive in school but he doesn’t have the right nutrition. It has a long term impact.”
While Qurbani is not going to solve that problem, the meat is a supplement, he said. “It does provide them added nutrition when otherwise they wouldn’t have access to it.”
This year, Islamic Relief staff around the world hope to deliver enough gifts to serve more than 3,5 million people.
Mohammad in Myanmar was one of those happy recipients last year. Twenty-year-old Mohammad was struggling to support his wife and baby as a labourer. After his father died, he had taken on the care of his mother and three sisters too. He earned about R45 a day, and spent nearly all of it on food. He could rarely buy meat.
“Today I’m privileged to cook beef for my whole family,” he said when he picked up the meat last year.
It takes a massive worldwide effort to efficiently coordinate the deliver of donors’ gifts even in hard-to-access places like Myanmar. It all starts months in advance.
About four months before Eid, Bilal said, field office staff begin taking bids from vendors to provide the animals and the preparation services. Then they begin identifying community members in need of the meat. Beneficiaries qualify based on objective criteria such as need, household size and income level.
After all of the arrangements are in order, local staff begin planning the distribution days. Details vary by country, but in some cases, recipients receive a ticket to exchange for the meat to ensure a quick and efficient distribution. In some countries, staff will even provide the recipients with a little money to cover their transportation costs—otherwise, many could not even afford to collect it.
At many Islamic Relief offices around the world, Qurbani means all hands on deck, from the full-time staff to thousands of volunteers who help with the distribution.
“You could easily have 10, 20, 30 people in each country,” Bilal said. “Even in a small operation you’re going to have at least five to 10 people.”
Finally, Eid arrives and all the plans fall into place, and local staff deliver your meat to families like Mohamad’s. Some recipients report that it makes their families stronger, but others just know it makes their Eid special.
“I could not make my family smile, but you did,” Mohammad said. “I would like to say thank you so much to the donor who gave us the beef for Eid—one of our very special occasions!”