KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The blessed month of Ramadan, is something awaited by Muslims to seek reward and merit promised by Allah through good deeds.
Muslims not only abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk to fulfill their fasting obligation but also take the opportunity to reinvigorate family ties and get closer to the community.
Here in Malaysia, it is common for young Muslims staying far away from their families to return to their hometowns or villages to greet Ramadan with their aged parents and siblings. This is a good example how Ramadan brings families closer and renews the filial bonds.
Also the neighbourhood surau and mosques hold numerous religious activities to enable Muslims not only to renew their faith in Islam but also renew the ties with their local community. This is another wonderful attribute of Ramadan in forging unity and greater understanding within the Ummah.
However, there are Muslims who neither have families nor communities to call their own. Despite of their unfortunate circumstances, this vulnerable group is not forgotten and the holy month of Ramadan brings them cheers and a sense of hope.
And one of the vulnerable group that gets special attention during Ramadan is the orphans.
ORPHANS NOT SIDELINED
Though they may have lost their families, fellow Muslims extend a helping hand to them during Ramadan. The concern shown by others is very meaningful for these people who have no one to depend on.
Muslims not only fulfill their religious obligation by fasting during the holy month, but also break fast and hand out Ramadan gifts and donations for the unfortunate lot.
Thus, it is not surprising to see this orphans feted by the corporate sector, government departments, political leaders and individuals who can afford during Ramadan.
The orphans in this country are never a forgotten lot as numerous agencies, corporation and individuals are more than eager to assist them even beyond Ramadan. Altruism is very much alive in Malaysia, only that it is felt more during Ramadan when the rewards and merits in return are many.
CREATIVITY AND UNIQUNESS
In getting to the hearts of the orphans, Ramadan provides numerous ways to bring joy into their hearts. And thus Ramadan is the time for them to forget their sorrows and solitude, and realise that there are many people outside there who still care for them.
About a decade ago, the charitable deeds during Ramadan were more towards handing out cash or kind, but the organisers or sponsors have diversified their approach with the changing times.
Thus, among others, these orphans are invited to break fast at hotels, restaurants or anywhere outside their homes or orphanages and given VIP treatment.
Apart from sumptuous food they are also given the Hari Raya 'angpow', hamper and the opportunity to take part in programmes lined up specially for them.
Among others, they are exposed to traditional music instruments and even in weaving the outer layer of ketupat.
Some even employ the clowns to entertain orphaned children while waiting to break fast. After fasting throughout the day, the funny looks and the antics of the clown provide some respite in their hearts.
Apart from food and entertainment, some extend charity in unique ways for practical reasons. A good example is that when barbers were brought to Asrama Pertubuhan Anak-anak Yatim Persatuan Bekas Perajurit Malaysia for a haircut so that they would look great on the 1st of Syawal.
THE VALUE OF A PAIR OF SHOES AND CLOTHING
As Ramadan is also about preparing for the 1st of Syawal, where Hari Raya is celebrated after fasting for a month, one of the highlights of the celebration is starting the day with new clothing.
And the orphans need not worry about getting one as there is always someone to buy for them.
Apart from the apparel, the girls get the tudung (headscarf) and telekung (white praying veil) while the boys get the songkok (Malay velvet cap) and sampin (a skirt-type adornment commonly worn with the Baju Melayu).
And they need not worry of the shoes as many are ready to sponsor them. The Association of Wives and Women Members (Benita) of the Malaysian National News Agency Malaysia (Bernama) has been handing out shoes for the orphans every year.
It is not surprising to see orphans taken for shopping for their Hari Raya apparel. And shopping too is an entertaining experience for them.
Under the Ramadan Charity Programme, organised by the 4x4 Adventure Club, in 2013, instead of taking the orphans from Pusat Jagaan Siraman Kasih in Rawang, Selangor, in buses or cars they were ferried on four wheel drives.
Though the atmosphere may not be the same like getting ready for Hari Raya with mum and dad, Ramadan will remind the orphans that there are always others who care for them.
ARTISTES AND CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES
Meanwhile, celebrities and charitable activities are synonymous during Ramadan. They are often invited to enliven 'buka puasa' functions or they volunteer to deliver the pre-dawn meals to the orphanages.
Apart from mingling with the orphans, they also entertain them with their songs or acts, bringing joy to the hearts of the orphans.
Because of the sense of hope that Ramadan brings with it, this group always look forward for the holy month, said Sharifah Adlan, the founder and the head of the Rumah Titian Kaseh (RTK).
With 130 occupants made up of orphans, the elderly and the disabled, Sharifah noted that there was no end to breaking fast invitations throughout Ramadan.
"The invitation comes from the government departments and private firms. If they are individuals, they deliver food or fruits to the home.
"And there are also religious itineraries like 'tazkirah' before breaking of fast and the solat terawih (extra prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan)", said to Bernama.
Do these orphans get raya angpow. Certainly yes, the money is credited into their savings and this is to inculcate the savings habit from young.
The blessed month of Ramadan brings many blessings for the unfortunate people and reminds the fortunate ones of their duties as Muslims over their less fortunate brethern.
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