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This Eid, I Pledge to Divert My Money Toward Relief Efforts

by Qurratul Ain Contractor |

We know a lot of you are aching to dress up and treat yourself this Eid, but join us in spending your Eid funds on a charitable cause instead. Make whipped coffee at home instead of heading to the drive-through; and skip that last-minute Eid-at-home-outfit splurge. Rewear, repurpose and create more barakat in your spending.

There are SO many causes to donate to, but we’ve been working with Qurratul Ain Contractor, a 28-year-old Mumbai native who works on water conservation in rural India. During the pandemic, she is spearheading multiple helplines to connect grass-roots organizations with funding for COVID-19 relief across communities in India.

More details below, but the easiest way to donate is to Venmo @arshiya-kherani-1 with the title EIDCOVID. For context, about $40 can provide food and hygiene products for a family of 5 for one month, and we will make sure the money gets to Ms. Contractor. We will be collecting donations through Eid, Sunday May 24, 2020. 

The post below has been written by Qurratual Ain Contractor, Mumbai, India.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic

An abrupt and complete nation-wide lock-down was announced in India on the 29th of March with a notice of less than 4 hours. 90% of India's workforce is employed by the informal sector which does not offer any welfare benefits. Still, this is the work-force that makes our comfortable living possible by growing our food, building our cities, stitching our clothes, cleaning our homes, streets and drains. Most of these people are daily wage earners, which means they only get paid every day that they turn up to work. Millions of unregistered migrant workers were stuck in cities 1000s of kilometers away from their families. For all these people, hunger and starvation became their reality over-night. 

Over the last 50 days, civil society organizations all over the country have come forward to help the vulnerable tide over this calamity. Mutual aid networks were set-up and many of us have been volunteering for helplines distributing food and hygiene supplies. 

One week into the lock-down, I was not only volunteering with one such helpline but also working with a grassroots organization on water and sanitation access in slums of the city of Mumbai. As the days passed, the voices on the other end of the phone lines became more and more desperate. With the beginning of Ramadan, our work expanded to North East Delhi where victims of the recent communal riots are living in burnt down homes and suffering destroyed livelihoods. 

This Ramadan, my understanding of fasting has expanded.

I speak with mothers who haven't been able to feed their children for days at a stretch. Mothers who have told me "We are fasting, but what about the children?". Mothers who have said "Our refrigerator was burnt in the riots but it's my little girl's first year fasting and I wish she could have some cold water at iftar."

This Ramadan, my understanding of the word Muslim has expanded. What does it truly mean to be Muslim? What does it mean to ensure that families living in 40 houses to my left and 40 houses to my right don't go to sleep hungry, when the cities we now live in are divided into ghettos carefully planned so we never have to see the poor?

As Ramadan comes to an end, I am also compelled to think about what Eid means to me. How can we create an occasion to celebrate in the midst of this situation? Perhaps by remembering the beautiful displays of faith so many people have expressed in the Almighty that He will take care of them somehow. Perhaps in the compassion shown by the sanitation worker who received food from us but gave it away to someone he felt was even more hungry in hope that he will be paid his salary soon. Perhaps in the display of humanity on the highways of India where people (irrespective of religion) are putting their own health at risk to offer water and food to migrants (irrespective of religion) walking home in the heat of May with children on their arms.

Here's a list of efforts I have personally come in touch with and can vouch for:

C e n t e r  F o r  P r o m o t i n g  D e m o c r a c y - Mumbai-based grassroots organization working with slum-dwellers and homeless. They have been offering food relief but more importantly, work on improving water and sanitation access, an effort with long-lasting benefits for the community. Supporting this work qualifies as Sadaqah-e-Jariyah. They make relief kits of Rs.3000 which contain food grains and hygiene products for a family of 5 for 1 month. (Roughly $40 USD).

P a r c h a m - Mumbai-based organization working with young Muslim girls from marginalized communities to empower them with education and confidence that comes through sports. Parcham also has an all-girls football team that actively breaks gender norms. During COVID times they have been distributing food kits to families to support them for 1 month. They have supported over 400 families thus far. Cost of each kit: Rs. 3000 (Roughly $40 USD).

A n k i t - Ankit is young man from Delhi who was so moved by the violence in the riots that he left his home and parents, shifted to northeast Delhi to help. He has been distributing food and access to medical help.

R i o t  V i c t i m s  I n  D e l h i Through the helpline I volunteered for and also the work on health access my sister Sana has been a part of during the communal riots in Delhi earlier this year, we have come in personal contact with some families who are in dire need. Whenever we have some extra cash, we either top up their accounts or try to get friends to do the same to facilitate rent, food, medicines etc. 

Why Venmo? 

The pandemic has brought extreme needs to light and everyone is going the extra mile to help families and individuals that they are in touch with. The best way for you to contribute to these efforts would be to transfer the funds to Arshiya in the USA. 

Alternatively, if you have an Indian bank account, please direct message me at @qurratulainc on Instagram, and I can provide the bank details to transfer to accordingly.

If this process feels too complicated

We urge you to contribute toward local relief efforts in your city. This Eid, let's find our joy in giving to those in desperate need and wear the sawaab as the most precious jewels. Perhaps in believing that every single person we are able to feed, even for a day, is a moment in which all of humanity is saved.

This Eid, I pledge to divert my time and money toward relief efforts. I pledge to commit to causes that strengthen our governance systems so that we can save more people from the humiliation that comes from starvation.

And most importantly, I give thanks for not only the blessings that Ar-Raheem, the Most Merciful, has showered on me, my friends and family, but also the difficult lessons that Al-Haqq, the Absolute Truth, is teaching me about life, death and beyond. May Al-Haadi, the Guide, guide us to the blessed path.


You can Venmo @arshiya-kherani-1 with the title EIDCOVID. We will be collecting donations through Eid (Sunday May 24, 2020, inshallah).

Learn more about Ms. Contractor's experiences with COVID-19 relief here and here

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