Hundreds of participants gathered yesterday to join Hyatt Plaza’s seventh edition of Fast-a-thon, a charity event aimed at giving young and destitute children in Somalia the opportunity to learn English.
Held every Ramadan, the two-day Fast-a-thon is staged exclusively for non-Muslims, providing the participants with not only the chance to help the underprivileged but also experience the true spirit of the holy month through fasting even for just one day.
Fast-a-thon was an offshoot of “Help the Orphans” Intensive English Course (IEC), a project spearheaded by renowned scholar Dr Bilal Philips, who sought to make 500 bright children proficient in English, according to a statement from Hyatt Plaza.
Both Hyatt Plaza and Eid Charity “were determined” to raise funds for the project by donating QR200 on behalf of every person who registers for the Fast-a-thon, which carried this year’s mission “Educating Children in Somalia”, the statement noted.
Prior to the Fast-a-thon, the participants were given an interactive orientation on Friday where they received information about the campaign and instructions on how to fast. The event culminated yesterday with an Iftar party, which also served as a venue for participants to share their experiences and views about fasting.
Hyatt Plaza general manager Feroz Moideen said the mall’s annual Fast-a-thon aims to increase the chances of children in Somalia to get a higher education and becoming productive members of society.
“Hyatt Plaza’s Fast-a-thon follows a two-pronged approach to help change Somalian children’s life, promote tolerance and brotherhood values and encourage expatriates to discover the local culture,” he said.
In Somalia, according to IEC, orphans learn their subjects in Somali or Arabic with little or no English. With English as the main medium of instruction in most universities, the chance for higher learning is bleak for the thousands of high-school graduates from Somalia’s orphanages.
Despite finishing high school, most of them end up as street merchants, while others risk their lives by fleeing the country, crossing the Mediterranean Sea to become refugees in Europe. “Others, unfortunately, become easy foot soldiers for Shebaab extremists,” the statement added.
“In preparation for this noble event, we have sent e-mails to non-Muslim communities, urging them to search their hearts, invite family and friends, and make a huge difference by joining Hyatt Plaza’s Fast-a-thon,” Moideen added.
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