Road Trip For A Good Cause!

Sister Sabria and about 50 volunteers hopped on a big bus and took a road trip to Ottawa for a good cause! 

On my way to the event, my mind could not escape thinking about the pain of the Rohingya massacre which left a devastating impact on the country of Myanmar. My heart was saddened by the news with the estimation of 520,000 people who have been displaced as well as the parents who died and their children who are now alone and vulnerable to degenerates of societies lowlifes. I was relieved attending this dinner for which Sister Sabria Foundation and HCI Canada have come together to be a beacon of light and hope at a time it is needed most. Sister Sabria worked closely with the Malaysian government to secure two acres of land in Malaysia to construct an orphanage for the orphan refugee children from Rohingya areas. Our role model is always a great inspiration to all of us and is always the most generous soul which always puts others first and especially for those in crises and most in need. I couldn't but be part of one of this great amazing initiative for building the orphanage because I really want to help ease the pain and the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Rohingya. 

The dinner was more than what I expected and was a great turning point for me. HCI invited distinguished guests to present at the fundraiser in Ottawa. We had dignitaries from Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Canada coming together for a cause that touched our heart. Nothing could describe the joy of seeing the unity of different cultures and countries coming together for the same humanitarian cause at such a critical time. The stories we heard from native Rohingyan left us speechless. Doctor Raeez's story left tears in our eyes and a message that resonates with us all. As we hear his story, we can't stop thinking that all victims are people like you and me. They are for the most part working hard to take care of their families. They all want to do the same. They want to be able to provide for their own on their own. They want the independence to live freely without risk to their livelihood. They are not asking anything more than their basic rights of freedom, security, and protection. 

As I was constantly looking around and observing the people and the attendees in the reception hall, I felt delighted. It was very heartwarming to see such a large turnout. There were over 350 people and all tables were full to capacity. Donors cry as they gave willingly throughout the night. The evening raised close to $62000.00 for the Orphanage that will be built in Malaysia for the Rohingya orphans. We heard from Doctors who were there on the ground seeing the atrocities that were happening there, and we are left to ask how this world can let this genocide happen. 

Ottawa community opened their hearts and pocketbooks willing to a good cause. God bless all those who play a role in making this fundraiser such a success, no matter how small a role or how big a role. This was a moment that I was proud to be an activist and so pleased to be part of Sister Sabria Foundation.

Civitas Food Distribution

Behind the scenes action!

As I passed for the first time through Stanley street into St George's Anglican Church Hall, the room was filled with action, people moving with food and busy writing, taking calls or helping each other. You would think you entered into a human-bee nest! I instantly felt the rush and excitement of taking part of something bigger than me.

Greeted by one of the volunteers, I was asked for my name and handed a name tag with the "Civitas" sticker referring to the joint interfaith project founded by PEACE Initiatives Canada & St George Anglican Church . My first mission achieved!

Moving into the kitchen, I spot volunteers preparing the kebabs. The smell was already D-I-V-I-N-E! Is it because we were in a Church! Or was it because it was Sister Sabria's magical touch? I shall never know...

Into the main hall, food stations were prepared to simplify the food preparation. Before the actual food preparation, brother Steven and Brother Musabbir gave us a pep talk on the expectation of food distribution in the streets.  I really liked this part of the day as we were advised on how to approach homeless individuals without seeming as off pretentious (e.g., kneeling down, smiling, not waking them up from sleep, remembering their name to build trust, etc). All of this was done with in a light hearted and animated way.

Then came the actual food preparation. Volunteers were placed on a large table on each side (facing each other). Each was assigned a task and, within an hour, lunches were assembled with deliciously freshly baked homemade cookies, fruit and water. It was a beautiful thing to see, volunteers with different walks of life and different faiths working hand in hand to feed 300 individuals.

After such hard work, the volunteers went to feast on the food they made. Nothing like a nice chit chat with other volunteers and the homeless to bring us close to each other and enrich our experience.

Ready? Set, food!

Among the stations volunteers were assigned to, like Atwater, Berri-Uqam, McGill, the volunteers had their supplies ready and off they went with their group leader! The experience of going in the streets and greeting the homeless is eye opening to say the least. The need for supplies can be seen as my team walked to meet and greet. We presented ourselves clearly and what we were part of (Civitas).

We were greeted with relief and smiles. Many even approached us and it was astounding how fast the lunches were given! Hearing stories from individuals who weren't not always homeless humbles us. It is an eye opener on how life can throw curve balls and that anyone can find themselves in this situation.

This experience was not only a social event but a lesson that each person must experience at least once in their life, regardless of where they are in life. A sense of belongs starts to grow on you and you would want to go back to see the friends you have met on the streets.

So the next time you see a homeless person, stop, smile and talk with them. They each have a story to tell you...and even something to teach you. :)

 

By Nada Ghoneim