Rima Karam decided to organise home-cooked iftar meals for workers at the local mosque when she came to know food donations there were proving inadequate
Dubai: Ramadan is not just about spiritual growth. For many people, whether or not they’re Muslim, it is also about doing what they can to give back to the community. That is why when Rima Karam’s driver first told her that a mosque close by wasn’t receiving enough food donations to feed the labourers and construction workers who often go there to end their fast, she knew she had to do something. Karam quickly took to Facebook and her own contact list to raise awareness within her immediate community.
While the Ramadan fridges set up around the Palm Jumeirah area have been a great source of cold meals and drinks for workers, Abdul Rahman Al Siddique Mosque did not always have enough hot meals to go around for workers ending their fast. Karam felt “quite sad” to find out that for some mosque-goers, their iftar meal sometimes only consisted of a piece of fruit and water.
She began making home-cooked meals like biryani with chicken or meat, hot sandwiches, and sambusak, to send to the mosque. “I use whatever I have in my fridge to make the meals or I buy extra products when I go grocery shopping. I make meals [the workers] would be familiar with, and that they would enjoy. I also make sure to send drinks like juices, laban and water as well as desserts and cutlery,” she says.
Although she is busy with her day-time job as the marketing director of MP Creative Limited, a home-grown company that introduces and manages new food and beverage concepts to the market, Karam, with the help of her children and their nannies, manages to allocate two hours of her day to cook and prepare the meals. Her strategy to provide enough food to feed 50 people is to always buy in bulk. That way, she says, she can afford to make enough healthy meals for her own family and the mosque-goers who need it.
Growing up in the UAE, Karam says, has allowed her to bear witness to and learn from the endless generosity of Emirati people. “Local families would always cook for workers at the mosque and even their own neighbours during Ramadan when I was growing up. But there aren’t many local families living in our neighbourhood now so the mosque doesn’t get a lot of donations, which is why we need to do what we can to help.”
Karam regularly takes part in different initiatives around the UAE. She recently participated in the Joy of Eid Ramadan campaign organised by the Rawafed Centre, a learning centre for deserving children, in collaboration with the Dubai branch of Emirates Red Crescent, the RedTag Department store and Ibn Battuta Mall. The daily Ramadan event grants 50 underprivileged children the chance to choose their own Eid clothing.
Karam also encourages her own children, aged six and eight, to take part in volunteering activities. They often help her pack up the hot meals delivered to the mosque and take food to the Ramadan fridges set up around their neighbourhood. According to Karam, the best way to teach one’s children to help others is to always “lead by example.”
Karam added that if every family in the UAE considered donating a large meal once a week to their local mosques or nearby labour camps, there would never be a shortage of iftar meals during Ramadan. Everyone should try to do their part to better the community in the spirit of Ramadan and to commemorate the Year of Zayed, she says.