Ma Maise, 58, lives with his wife in Wang Lushan village, in China’s remote Gansu province. The couple have two sons and a daughter. They rely on money from their eldest child, a taxi driver and – when the rains permit – supplement their diet by growing vegetables.

“My eldest son is the only breadwinner of the family,” Ma Maise told us when we met him last year. Lahaimai also has a wife and two children to support, as well as helping his parents to look after his disabled younger brother and sister, a 20 year-old student.

“During tough times, we even don’t have enough flour to eat, because there are so many people in my family. We plant some vegetables in the yard, which could save some money.

“We mostly depend on the rain. If one year’s rainwater is good enough, we can have a relatively good harvest. However, if there are droughts or too much rainfall one year, we have to suffer hunger to some extent.”

Ramadan fell in summer last year, so the family had vegetables to eat. But when the crops fail, the family depend on the help of their neighbours or support from the government.

Ma Maise speaks to Islamic Relief

Ma Maise speaks to Islamic Relief

“The month of Ramadan is a sacred period for our Muslims. We get up earlier and sleep later in order to abide by the rules of fasting. But for us, for our family, there is no difference in food. Sometimes we have to borrow food, or ask for the local community’s help.”

Their typical diet during the holy month consists of steamed buns and noodles, as well as any potatoes they have grown. But in 2013, Ma Maise received his first Islamic Relief food parcel, consisting of 25 kilograms of flour, as well as cooking oil. It helped the family to break their fast and enjoy some special food during Ramadan.

“I believe that Ramadan package really helped me and my family to great degree. Because of the package, we have more food for all family members – especially for our disabled son. We can even eat delicious fried dough twists and deep-fried dough cakes.”

Last year, our Ramadan parcels eased hardship during the blessed month for over 10,300 vulnerable people in China.

This Ramadan, use the power of your zakat to ease hardship for other poor families: Donate to our Ramadan Appeal today.