Fatuma’s Story: A Burden Lifted

In Kenya, four of Fatuma's children, the youngest being nine months.

Every year, Islamic Relief delivers Ramadan food packs to families in need worldwide. One of the recipients includes Fatuma Bashir (38), a widow and mother of 7, in Garissa, Kenya.

Fatuma was previously a trader of bananas and lemons. However, she became a stay-at-home mother following the death of her husband. As she had no one else to look after her children if she worked.

Struggling to Feed Her Family

 “My husband was the sole breadwinner of the family but unfortunately, he recently passed on. I used to supplement the family’s income by selling lemons and bananas at the Garissa town market. (But) I was not earning enough income to support all the basic needs of the family. 

“Currently, I am not able to trade at the market because I have a nine-month-old child who needs my care. I have no one to leave with the young ones. We are now dependent on well-wishers and relatives for food and water.  

Image: In Kenya, four of Fatuma’s children, the youngest being nine months.

“In Garissa, we are forced to buy water from water vendors which is quite a struggle for me because I do not have enough money. Neighbours have been kind enough to share their water with us.” 

“My neighbours contributed a few supplies such as beans, rice and sugar so that I could open a small kiosk when my husband died but the sales are very low. 

“We eat whatever I manage to get each day. I am grateful to God because we can have one meal a day, and sometimes we are lucky to have two meals.  

 “Alhamdulillah, the children are healthy, but they come to me crying out of hunger when we lack meals. It saddens me that I cannot provide for them always, but we leave it to Allah.”  

Daily Life in Kenya During Ramadan

“Ramadan is a Holy month of prayer. We continue to observe our religious obligations to Allah through fasting and prayer. I ask for forgiveness and seek Allah’s mercies on my family.”  

 “Our Ramadan diet is the same as throughout the year. We do not have special meals because we are grateful to have a meal any day of the year. We prepare whatever I get. I try to diversify our meal to include beans, rice, flat bread, and a corn meal made from maize.

 “I wake up at 3am to prepare Suhoor for the family. We eat together, pray, and start our fast. We do not go back to sleep. The children go to school, and we are left looking for water for the family. I close kiosk at 3pm to prepare the iftar meal when we are blessed with food.

“During Ramadan, a lot of people pray together in the morning and evening at the Mosque. The children visit the Mosque in the evenings to listen to evening sermons by the Imam while we I listen through the Mosque’s megaphone while cooking at home. Ramadan is a special time when people are kind to those in need. Neighbours invite others to share in meals as we chat under the sun setting.”

How Islamic Relief Helps

Fatuma came to learn of Islamic Relief after a friend referred her to the organisation, following her husband’s death. She requested support and was registered on the OrphanCare programme for quarterly monetary support for one of her children, as well as the Ramadan Food programme.  

A total of 31,710 people benefited from last year’s Ramadan project in Kenya. 5,285 food packs were distributed in Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Moyale, Kilifi, Nairobi, and Tana River Counties.  

Each food pack included 10KG long grain rice, 10KG maize meal flour, 10KG wheat flour, 5KG sugar, 5KG dates, 5KG beans and 3L cooking oil.  

Fatuma and her family are one of the beneficiaries of the Ramadan programme in Kenya. Here is them receiving their food pack.
Image: Fatuma and her family are one of the beneficiaries of the Ramadan programme in Kenya.

Groups who received food packs included divorcees, single mothers, orphan families, persons living with disability, vulnerable families taking care of persons living with disabilities, poor families and families affected by the drought. 

“The food pack given by Islamic Relief was a welcome relief to many who were affected by the drought,” says Fatuma.  

“I received a pack with assorted food items that I needed. I did not need to buy more food for at least two weeks (as) I received all the ingredients needed to make a meal.” 

 “The pack was wholesome because it had the food items that are normally consumed in our locality. I would only ask that you increase the quantities next time because we are struggling to make ends meet.” 

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