Volunteers pack meals during Ramadan for the hungry across the globe
Dozens of volunteers helped pack meals Saturday at The Mecca Center in Willowbrook for people starving globally, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast daily from dawn to dusk.
Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization, sponsored the event where volunteers packed 35,000 nutritious meals.
“Everyone in this room is fasting while they are packing these meals,” said Wsmah Siddiqui, senior volunteer engagement specialist for Islamic Relief's Midwest region. “We normally (get) 60 to 100 volunteers. It is great that 130 volunteers came out.”
The meal bags contain rice, beans, dried vegetables, soy and vitamin packs. Each bag serves six people and has a shelf life of two years.
“These meals are going to be shipped internationally to either orphanages, schools or hospitals,” Siddiqui said. “They go to people who are malnourished, who have not had a meal in a long time. Most of these meals end up going to countries in Africa.”
Recipients can add local spices and meats to the meal packs to suit their cultural tastes, she said.
Another packing event is planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16 at the Mosque Foundation Community Center, 7260 W. 93rd St., Bridgeview. To view upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit irusa.org/volunteer.
Islamic Relief currently is accepting donations for Turkey and Syria earthquake relief and global orphans at irusa.org/give.
Oakton College in Des Plaines will host a series of free events in April and May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Members of the public can learn more about these communities and cultures and support local AAPI artists, activists and businesses.
“More than 20% of our students identify as Asian American and Pacific Islander, the largest ethnic group among students of color,” said Dear Aunaetitrakul, senior program manager for the Center for Organizing Minority Programs to Advance Student Success and the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions Program. “We want to ensure all students and community members have opportunities to engage and learn more about the AAPI community.”
Oakton became the first community college in Illinois to receive the Asian American Native American and Pacific Islander Serving Institution designation in 2020, a program established by the U.S. Department of Education.
AAPI events this month are:
Asian American Talent Night, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Des Plaines campus, 1600 E. Golf Road. Oakton's AAPI community, including faculty, staff, and students will showcase their talent.
Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Pakistan, 9:30-10:45 a.m. Wednesday, in person at Oakton's Des Plaines campus and virtually at https://bit.ly/3IZoBlb, featuring Rabia Ali, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, and a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Harper College in Palatine.
Creating Justice Symposium: Celebrating the Contributions of Arts to Social Justice Movements, 1-7 p.m. April 14 at the Des Plaines campus. Featured presenters and performers include Dorothy Burge, a fabric and multimedia artist and community activist; Deep Time Chicago, an art/research/activism initiative; Chicago Desi Youth Rising, an organization empowering Chicago youth to combat racial, economic, and social inequity; Psalm One, a recording artist; and Open Architecture Chicago, a collaborative of volunteer design professionals and students dedicated to advocacy and social change. The event will culminate in a free dinner and musical performance.
AAPI Heritage Month is observed nationally in May. Check back here for more details on Oakton's events next month.
Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove will pay tribute to generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched history for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
All programs are free and open to the public.
“East Meets West: A Cultural Experience,” noon-3 p.m. Tuesday: The Asian American and Pacific Islander Waubonsee Student Club will host an immersive East Asian cultural event. Attendees will learn how to make origami, decorate fans and practice chopstick techniques. The club also will host a fundraiser and sell goody bags filled with Asian candies.
“The Art of Henna,” noon-2 p.m. April 11: Learn about the history and cultural significance of the art of henna. Free, small henna tattoos, provided by Prairie Henna by Julie, will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Celebrate India,” 12:30 p.m. April 19: a cultural program featuring a variety of music, dance, and fashion exploring the performing and visual arts of India.
“Every Now and Zen,” 12:30 p.m. April 26: an outdoor exercise with guided meditation and stretches.
“Luau on the Lawn - Lei Day,” noon-2 p.m. May 1: a luau celebrating Lei Day. Learn about the history of hula and enjoy a beginner's hula class facilitated by Kuma June of Halau i Ka Pono Hawaiian Hula School. The outdoor event will feature live Hawaiian music, free food, island-themed drinks and crafts.
For event details, visit waubonsee.edu/AAPI.
The college also has prepared an interactive guide for community members to learn more about Asian Pacific American and Pacific Islander history, art, culture and ancient traditions. Visit guides.library.waubonsee.edu/AAPI.
New mosque opens
A new mosque opened in Aurora last week.
The Masjid Hidayath Islamic Center of Aurora, at 543 S. Lake St., serves Muslims in Aurora and nearby suburbs, including Oswego, Yorkville and Plano. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center is planned toward the end of Ramadan in April, according to Clayton Muhammad, the city's chief communications officer.
At last Tuesday's city council meeting, officials celebrated members of the city's Muslim community, including mosque leaders and youth, as part of Aurora's annual Ramadan Proclamation Ceremony.
Several Muslim youths were awarded for their work in the community, including Metea Valley High School students Zaid Kazmi and Shanza Khan and North Central College student Sabha Fatima.
Leaders Jamal Tayh of Masjid Hidayath and Imam Rizwan Ali of the Islamic Center of Naperville - two mosques that have served Aurora for more than 25 years - were honored with the Mayor's Award of Excellence. After the presentation, Muslims gathered in downtown Aurora for prayer and Aurora's first community iftar, the fast-breaking meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan.
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