People are attracted to diversity and difference: It makes life richer, more enjoyable, and our horizons widen when we are invited to engage with other cultures. It’s one reason why we love to travel, and why multicultural societies thrive as ‘hothouses’ of creative expression and economic growth. Mutual respect, open mindedness, and appreciation of the many different facets of life are keys to diverse yet harmonious & integrated societies.
In getting to know our families, we volunteers have learned about Ramadan, which is happening right now. This is the Islamic holy month where Muslims hold extra focus on their faith through reading the Koran, spiritual reflection & prayer, fasting during daylight hours, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends over special meals.
Ramadan ends this year on the 23rd/24th May culminating with a festival (called Eid al-Fitr), a big feast, and often gift giving to children. (Though like everything else at the moment, it looks a little different this year, with more online comings together rather than in person.)
In past years we have been invited to join some of these meals, and share in the experience (and a lot of delicious food). Many hilarious moments of asking, and asking again, “When can we eat? Is it time yet?” as very hungry tummies, patiently and not so patiently, wait to break the fast at the end of the day. Impressed that so many people (who are safely and healthily able to do so) choose to fast every day for a month during daylight hours, for many reasons: One being a reminder of those who don’t have enough food to eat and the importance of charity, and concern for the welfare of others. That’s a powerful reminder for us all.
In the name of sharing cross cultural activities, here at HDoS we have held a Christmas party every year, inviting the families to join in ‘our’ religious celebrations as honoured guests. Guess what – it seems like the giving of gifts to children and witnessing their joy is a universally enjoyed experience. (And despite Covid19 – it’s never too early to prepare – we have already set a date and booked the place for our 2020 party.)
There’s more sharing going on right now via our phones than ever before, but also more time in the garden, be it in a pot or a vegetable patch. ‘Green fingered’ is the western expression, but ‘green handed’ is the middle eastern equivalent. Green is good!
All kinds of beans!
Learning is also continuing for both the adults (and the children) with the Online English lessons now rolled out with extra support. We continue to have regular verbal ‘check-ins’ with all the families, to ensure all are doing well and address any particular needs coming up.
For now, wishing us all safe and well, with the hope of being able to share more again in person at some point in the future.