This summer I was blessed to get an eight-week summer job placement with Sadaqa Food Bank as the media/events coordinator, and it reminded me of how important it was to help other people. With a half-finished undergraduate degree in human rights, I have realized that theorizing about poverty will not solve anything.
With the academic year getting back in full swing, many families across Canada spent the last few weeks of their summer vacation preparing their children to go back to school. At the Sadaqa Food Bank, similar preparations were underway this month, as the organisation ran its annual Back to School campaign to help families in need.
“We have many needy families in the community and they don't just need food,” Yacoub Abu-al-Hawa, coordinator of the Sadaqa Food Bank explains. “One of the things that many families need help with is back to school preparations. If you need to buy just one item, it's not expensive, but when you have a whole list of things you need and especially when you have a lot of children, then it quickly becomes very expensive. And this cost comes all at once; it isn't distributed over the year. It is very difficult for many families to afford. So we are just trying to help them and provide what we can.”
The sun shone down on my family and me as we entered Brewer Park June 30, joining Ottawa Muslims and members of the greater community as they ate, shopped, and played at the Sadaqah Food Bank Food Festival, an innovative fundraising event.
People streamed in from the park's entrance and parking lot off Bronson Avenue, across from Carleton University. Large bouncy rides seen from the street invited children to come in and play while adults were lured in by the long line of tents offering food for sale.
I recall my first day as a volunteer at the Ottawa Sadaqa Food Bank. I didn't really know what to expect, so I was glad it was training day which also gave me an opportunity to meet my fellow team members. Once our training was complete we were officially on our own. We divided ourselves into two groups. Two of us would staff the office and serve the clients, while the other two would take to the pantry to stock shelves and make food packages. Initially I was in the latter group.