London, 7 July 2014 – Over 5 000 parcels of food and provisions were packed at UK Jamatkhanas this Saturday to help some of the most vulnerable populations in London, Birmingham and Leicester.
Under Share a Smile, an initiative of the Ismaili Muslim community in the United Kingdom to help those in need during the month of Ramadan, local charities are to distribute the packages. Ten organisations were selected on the basis of the work they do with the homeless, women escaping domestic violence and socially vulnerable young people.
“We are delighted to have been selected as one of the beneficiary charities of this year's Share a Smile initiative,” said Eilidh Kennedy of Action Homeless, an organisation that helps people without a home to transform their circumstances. “Support from our local community is vital to enable us to help vulnerable individuals and families to rebuild their lives and leave homelessness behind for good.”
Hundreds of Jamati volunteers were joined by local policemen, leaders from various faith communities and local residents to prepare the parcels. The packing took place at the Northwest, West London, South London, East London, Leicester and Birmingham Jamatkhanas, as well as the Ismaili Centre, London.
Over the past several weeks, members of the Jamat and their friends donated funds and items towards Share a Smile, including tins of sweetcorn, baked beans, soup packets, socks, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
“These packs with everyday things that we take for granted will give our clients a start,” said Beth Norden of St Mungo's Broadway, who joined in the packing effort. “I know there are going to be quite a lot of happy people out there.”
The Share a Smile initiative is a practical expression of Shia Ismaili values of generosity, voluntary service and good citizenship, which are founded on Islamic ethics that all Muslims strive towards, particularly during the month of Ramadan.
“We wanted to use our generosity and energy to help people amongst whom we live,” explained Amin Mawji, President of the Ismaili Council for the United Kingdom. A volunteer from Northwest London Jamatkhana agreed: “Voluntary service is a long-standing tradition in our community, and a value which we have grown up with. I feel honoured to be giving back to the community in which we live and helping those in need.”
“It's been a very uplifting day,” added President Mawji. “I'm hoping the initiative will continue to grow each year.”