As well as the physical impact of fasting, Ramadan can have an emotional impact on a family, reminding them of a way of life they have lost, and friends and family they can no longer celebrate with. Community Sponsorship volunteer Abdulrahman tells us more below and suggests how groups can support a refugee family through what can be a lonely time.
“Ramadan is the month when all family members come together in one house, sharing food, talking, enjoying playing after breaking fast.
For example for myself, my sisters, my family, my uncles, my aunts, all of us will join in my grandfather’s home. It feels like more than 100 persons in one house eating, sharing, talking, laughing, a lot of noise – you cannot hear each other!
Imagine then transferring to another situation where you sit just three or four people together – you, your wife and children. No other family, no friends. You will not hear other people celebrating Ramadan. There is no sound of Adhan [call to prayer] telling you when to break your fast. You will not smell the food in all the streets during start time. It can be very, very difficult.
As a group, we do our best to create this feeling of Ramadan for the family. Someone from our group goes to their house, brings food, they break fast together, eat and drink together, play together. It’s very informal – they are not filling in application forms or anything like this. It’s a very casual, friendly visit.
We definitely cannot create the whole Ramadan environment for the family. And they find it hard, like for myself when I came to the UK, I found it really hard. But we can support them in a very possible way and try to help them adapt to being in a different country. Okay, we don’t have some of the things that we used to have. But we have different things now: we can support our family, we can work, we can study. We try to have a very positive conversation and hope it will make the family feel a bit better, make them feel not so lonely. But of course, I cannot be in their heart to understand their feelings 100%.
Despite everything that you do during Ramadan to support the family, you cannot create the perfect environment for them. The family won’t be over the moon, they won’t be happy all the time, because Ramadan is the month when we remember others, and we are away from our friends and our family. But even if you can do a very small thing, just do it, because it will leave a good impact.”