Living abroad is not an easy thing on a student, especially for a Muslim one during the month of Ramadan. Living away from home during this month can be a tough and lonely experience. Knowing this, Omar Salha, a 28-year-old from London, set up a Ramadan Tent to give lonely students free meals and, more importantly, a sense of belonging.
Omar began his idea 5 years ago. He started off with one shopping cart and common food. The postgraduate student at the School of Oriental and African Studies told Buzzfeed,
“In 2011 when we started, we had only a [shopping] trolley with a handful of foods donated to us, it wasn’t healthy at all – we only had things we could get our hands on. Most of the stuff was [from] the supermarkets. Around 10 to 15 of us would go and buy pizzas, crisps, tea, coffee, water, and dates – you know, the simple stuff.”
Now, his idea has expanded into magical tents filled with fun, food, and laughter. The Ramadan Tent spreads across a garden square in the middle of London, where hundreds of Muslims and non-Muslims alike gather to enjoy the sunset meal.
Omar’s crowd-funded project has grown rapidly. There are tents pitched up in seven cities across the globe including Manchester, London, and Plymouth in the UK, Istanbul in Turkey, Ndola in Zambia, and Toronto and Portland in Oregon. The food comes from donated money, well-wishers, and sponsors. All guests enjoy meals such as pasta, meat and rice, and even fish and chips!
Get-togethers like this are a great way to bring the Muslim community together. They’ve hosted a variety of inspiring speakers from performance artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders from other faith groups Salha says,
“Look, we try to accommodate everyone and I think it’s important that we don’t enforce a particular ideology. What we do is nothing controversial. At the end of the day we are providing iftar and there are many, many people who attend, and it is interesting to see the spectrum of Muslims that attend.”
It turns out that having a tent, a generator, banquet rolls, plates, bin bags, patient volunteers, food parcels, funding, T-shirts for volunteers, a PA system and of course desserts all in one place, is a great way to introduce people to the religion, culture, and the community!
Don’t forget to share the baraka and leave a smile 🙂 !