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Hunger-Fighting Campaign Launches in Ottawa
19
June
2014

Hunger-Fighting Campaign Launches in Ottawa

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For the third year in a row, Give 30 promises to bank on the giving spirit of Ramadan to inspire people of all faiths and backgrounds to help fight hunger.

The campaign, which includes Ottawa for the first time, is a national, grassroots initiative that has already raised $130,000 for food banks in several Canadian cities. This year, nine food banks in five cities have joined the campaign.

Toronto lawyer and social activist Ziyaad Mia is the founder of Give30.ca. He spoke with Muslim Link.

How did Give 30 come into being?

The genesis of G30 was in a joke, really. One Ramadan more than a decade ago, I was washing up and putting away my coffee cup at work for the month when a colleague at the office asked what I was doing. I joked that fasting for Ramadan is so great, it saves money. And, I love saving money! That's when two neurons in my small brain woke up, fired and wrestled. Hmmm. Money is saved by Muslims who are fasting (lunch, coffees, donuts, snacks, cigarettes)… And, one of the key lessons of Ramadan is learning about the importance of food, hunger, and building empathy and social solidarity and giving to build unity and community. Bingo! Why don't we find a way to move that saved money (so, a net-zero proposition - not asking for any new cash from anyone, just the savings/surplus). So, that's the germ of the idea

What was your reaction to the way it caught on?

Very happy, obviously.

It really does not have much to do with me, but with the people out there who hear the message or read about G30 and something clicks for them.

What does the success of the campaign say to you about the potential of Canadian Muslims to positively impact the wider society?

It demonstrates in a concrete way that Muslims can make an enduring positive contribution. The issue is that Muslims need to critically examine themselves and their faith, to dig out the universal gems that are embedded in the heart of Islam. At its root, Islam is about compassion, justice and complete service to other creatures, without expectation of outcomes, or reward in this life or the next - pure altruism. There are no footnotes, disclaimers, waivers, clarifications. Nope, no lawyering up the Quran's message. Just do good works, dude.

What are your hopes for the campaign this year, and in coming years?

Well, given the track record, I just don't know. Insha’Allah (God willing), it will continue to grow and be a success.

Eventually, I want to also address broader structural issues that give rise to poverty and hunger. Those issues include lack of affordable housing and living wages. People need stable, rewarding and dignified work - not McJobs that pay nothing. I am thinking of bringing that work into the mandate and mission of Give 30, because Give 30 is about building sustainable and real solutions to hunger and poverty.

How have the food banks reacted to the campaign?

The first year I am sure Daily Bread was wondering who is this pushy guy telling us to do this and that and telling us he's going to raise this money? But, they are usually very excited for the obvious reason of the opportunity to raise money, but also to make Ramadan a part of mainstream Canadian giving and sharing.

Further thoughts?

One thing I wanted was to use Ramadan's wonderful principles of social solidarity across boundaries and empathy and social justice to motivate everyone. And, to make Ramadan accessible to all. So, all would participate, just as we all do in a Christmas or Easter event.

Many people have heard of Ramadan, but the retort many times is: "Hey, isn't that when you guys starve yourselves?" I wanted the retort to be: "Ramadan, isn't that when we're feeding the hungry together?"

To learn more, visit www.Give30.ca

This article was produced exclusively for Muslim Link and should not be copied without prior permission from the site. For permission, please write to info@muslimlink.ca.

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Amira Elghawaby

Amira Elghawaby is Muslim Link’s Editorial Advisor. She is providing professional guidance and training to the Muslim Link team and writers. Amira is also developing relevant newspaper and website policies and a style guide. Amira obtained a degree in Journalism and Law from Carleton University in 2001. Since then, she has worked as both a full-time and freelance journalist and editor, writing and producing stories for a variety of media including the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, CBC-Radio, Rabble and the Middle East Times. She is the History Editor for New Canadian Media. Find her on Twitter @AmiraElghawaby.