Ten-year old Zainuddin lives with his mother and brother in Indonesia’s Aceh Barat district.
Since Zainuddin’s father died, his mother has worked hard to provide for Zainuddin and his brother, sixteen-year old Hamandi. She works as a farm labourer during the agricultural season, and also takes in washing. Despite her backbreaking labour and long hours, she cannot earn enough to feed her children and meet their other basic needs. The sponsorship she receives for Zainuddin through Islamic Relief’s orphan welfare scheme helps, but she is still sometimes forced to cut out meals and compromise the quality of their diet.
Almost every day, their meals consist of home-grown sweet potatoes and cassava. When food is particularly scarce, they only eat rice. As a result of poor nutrition, the children are often sick – and it is affecting their education as well as their overall wellbeing. The family’s only source of water is brackish water from a shallow well, which they spend a lot of time filtering using sand and coconut husks.
“Our situation is bad but we keep trying to make it better,” his mother told us when we visited the family home last year. “As Muslims, we strongly believe that there is nothing in the world that God Almighty cannot help with.”
Moving closer to God and family togetherness
Despite their hardships, Ramadan remains a special time for Zainuddin and his family.
“Alhamdulillah, we remain grateful to God, for we still can get together and eat together because of the blessing of Ramadan. When breaking our fast in Ramadan, we have steamed rice, plain vegetable soup (known locally as sayur bening), omelette, and, sometimes, some cake or cucumber juice mixed with syrup. Very rarely would we have fish [especially] during Ramadan, due to the price rises during the fasting month – let alone chicken or meat.”
Last year, Zainuddin and his family received an Islamic Relief foodpack. More than 18,900 poor people in Indonesia benefitted from the parcels, which contained rice, wheat, cooking oil, noodles, sugar, canned milk and tea.
“The distribution of Ramadan packages by Islamic Relief exclusively targeted poor orphaned children in our village,” said Zainuddin’s mother.
“The package, presented in well-wrapped and clean packaging, was very useful. It is heartening because it has been filled with the main foodstuffs which we really need at present. [This includes] rice, which we normally cook for the whole family, sugar and tea, for serving sweet drinks, which we require in Ramadan for extra energy, and wheat flour, for us to prepare cake for iftar and at Eid al-Fitr.
“Thank you for sharing some of our burden and making us feel important. The whole family hope that Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr this year will be a blessing for all of us, including the generous donors, and all Muslim communities in the world. Ameen.”
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