Ruqayyah’s grand-children welcome the Islamic Relief team in Tunisia

Mother-of-five Ruqayyah Bent Mohamed, 90, lives in Gbelli Governorate. She shares her home with her husband and widowed daughter, Sasiya, as well as three grandchildren.

“I am the breadwinner for my family,” she told us, when we visited her family home in Douz last Ramadan. Ruqayyah’s husband has been disabled for 15 years, and the family struggle to make ends meet on the social welfare that they receive.

“It is not enough to cover our food, bills and healthcare. My main source of income is from peeling, sun-drying, and selling onions to neighbouring families, but it’s not something that I can rely on. I do not pass up an opportunity to do some housework in neighbouring houses.”

Ruqayyah told us that food prices rose dramatically following Tunisia’s revolution. “Life got very challenging. I found it difficult to pay the electricity and water bills, and it became even more difficult to have any access to health facilities – especially for my husband. The procedures of the public health facilities take a long time, and we don’t have money to afford private sector expenses.”

Together with her daughter, Ruqayyah works hard to provide for her grandchildren and the rest of the family.

“My three grand-children are demanding, like all children, when it comes to food. When they are going to school, they always ask for a snack which is not always affordable. I rely a lot on my neighbours, who sometimes send us some cooked food, but it makes me sadder when the kids expect food and it doesn’t come.

“We try at least to ensure two meals a day. Thanks to some generous hands, we get extra help from time to time.”

Ruqayyah’s husband receives the family's Ramadan food pack.

Ruqayyah’s husband receives the family’s Ramadan food pack.

As prices rise in the holy month, the need for food becomes even more pressing for the family – who can rarely afford to eat meat and usually eat couscous.

“During Ramadan, the children ask for different dishes. I strive to make the main course with vegetables at the very least so my family has a nutritious meal which will help them during their fasting.”

In Tunisia last year, Islamic Relief provided 669 vulnerable families – including Ruqayyah’s – with wholesome food for Ramadan. Food parcels included staples such as couscous, pasta, and rice, as well as canned tomatoes, peas, and soup. Kitchen essentials such as sugar, harissa, tea and dates were also provided.

“The food parcel that we have received from Islamic Relief is really helpful. The food items are varied and very nutritious. Now, a big burden has been taken off my shoulders in this blessed month.”

This Ramadan, you can help Islamic Relief reach out to vulnerable families in Tunisia, and other countries around the world. Unlock the power of your zakat: donate today.