Eid, one of the biggest celebrations of the Islamic calendar, was celebrated around the world on Thursday, May 13, 2021. Eid translates to “the feast of breaking the fast'' in Arabic, Eid al Fitr concludes the holy month of fasting and prayer known as Ramadan.
Every year during this time of giving, facilitated by the nonprofit organization, Al-Mustafa Foundation of Utah and their Muslim Girl Scout Troop #496, organize Eid refugee gifts for families served by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City. The troop, which includes Muslim girls of all ages between elementary school and high school, formed in 2006 and joined forces with the IRC in 2008.
“We provide these Eid gifts for the children because we know it’s hard when you leave your home and we want them to feel welcome and happy on Eid,” Shazia Faizi, director of the Al-Mustafa Foundation says.
Through the rallying efforts of the Al-Mustafa Foundation, the Muslim community comes together to sponsor newly arrived children, supporting them as they begin navigating childhood in Utah.
“People are so nice, so generous, they ask ‘When will your project start this Ramadan?’ it's really heart-warming. This is one of the most well-known projects that the community has supported,” Shazia says.
With the aid of the community, the girl scouts shop for needed supplies: an outfit, a winter coat, a backpack full of supplies, and a toy to make the gift festive and fun. Before they shop, the Girl Scout troop learns about budgeting, ensuring that children receive the supplies they need and providing an important learning experience for the troop.
“When there are 20 families [you’re serving], that may often translate to 80 to 100 people,” Shazia shares, highlighting how many people the Girl Scout troop accounts for when shopping. In addition to children, they also include plenty of necessary household items for the entire family. “As the years have passed, we have been able to provide household items like small appliances, like vacuum cleaners and slow cookers. Even laundry detergent and hand soap has become a part of the Eid gifts for the last few years. We are so grateful to do what we can to help out,” adds Shazia.
“Each year we would rally the girls and volunteers to a local store, fill our shopping carts, make a huge line down the store checkout, pay for the items and get together to gift wrap the items,” says Shazia. But Ramadan of 2020 was different, the troop did most of their shopping for families online, innovating their process to continue to serve families during the early months of the pandemic. The girls worked even harder to make a special Eid for the families sending handwritten Eid cards by the youngest members of the troop, the daisies and brownies.
To wrap up the season of Ramadan, Shazia and the girl scouts wrap the gifts. They enjoy this time together as they prepare to deliver gifts to families. Some of the girls are in high school and old enough to fast. Despite this challenge, they still dedicate their time generously to warmly welcome refugees to the community.
As Ramadan celebrates gratitude and sharing, they also deliver food baskets to recently arrived families to help them break their fast. In 2018, they even hosted a large dinner for refugees in the community, where they feasted together and recited from the Quran. “That was really rewarding, we felt the years of service really helped families feel at home,” Shazia says. Hopefully, as conditions improve, they will be able to host welcoming dinners in the future.
Although they were not able to meet the families in person in 2020, according to Shazia, delivering the Eid gifts in person has always been an important moment of connection. “It helped make a bond for the families to see that people care,” she shares. In 2020, the mothers of girls in the troop and volunteers of Al-Mustafa Foundation helped deliver the Eid gifts.
For Shazia, an amazing part of this work is when it comes full circle. One of the newest members of the troop was once new to Utah and received an Eid gift from the Al-Mustafa Foundation in 2016. Now, she’s a member of Troop #496 and she helped organize 2021 Eid Refugee gifts!
After years of their generous work, Natalie El-Deiry, executive director, expressed: “On behalf of the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City I'd like to express my deepest gratitude to the Al-Mustafa Foundations for their commitment to include some of Utah's newest refugee arrivals the in their annual Eid celebration. Each year, newly arrived refugees, many of whom share in their Muslim faith with local community members, feel an extra sense of welcome as the Al-Mustafa Foundation honors the holiday through their giving.”
Work with the IRC in Salt Lake City as a partner to ensure refugee and asylee families continue to feel welcome and receive the support needed to rebuild their lives in Utah. Learn how »