Imran Abdul Haqiim Bin Aman Shah, an intern at Halal Trip, discusses the origins of the Pledge Your Lunch Campaign. He describes its development from an idea to a charitable campaign supporting Free Food For All (FFFA) and the Cahaya Surya Bakti in Johor, Malaysia.
Back in 2007, I recall a conversation I had with my classmates in school on the purpose of fasting during Ramadan:
“Why do Muslims have to fast during Ramadan?” one of them asked.
“To understand what it feels like to be poor,” I replied.
“But if you already understand how they feel?”
In full honesty, I was surprised by the question. Living in a multi-racial country like Singapore, these conversations are bound to happen. However, talking about religion does come with a challenge when trying to explain the intangible concept of virtues and spiritual rewards of Ramadan.
Looking back, it probably would have been easier to explain that Muslims believe there is an overwhelmingly huge significance to the spiritual, unseen side of Ramadan. However, I decided to explain to my classmates on the tangible, worldly social benefits that the month of Ramadan brought, using a common ground we shared – Economics.
“Ramadan is a month of charity. Since Muslims aren’t having lunch for the entire month, all that benefit we had is to be channelled to the poor and needy. So all we need to do is to channel our lunch money to the poor since we will not be having lunch during Ramadan.”
In response, I remember my friend conceding that pledging one’s lunch would be a good idea, if it was indeed carried out.
And so, the matter was left there.
I did wish then that there was something I could do to enact my ideas. A way to really encourage Muslims and non-Muslims to pledge their lunches for the month of Ramadan. As a student, without money or connections, launching a charitable campaign seemed far-fetched, beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve on my own.
A lunch might not sound like much - if one lunch could only feed one person, for only one meal a day, we’d still be fighting an uphill battle to help solve hunger in our communities.
But with more people coming on board to chip in and distribute our lunch money, we can go further with the fund and help build a better cause.
Fast forward to March 2018, and it looks like all the elements we needed for Pledge Your Lunch campaign are actually starting to fall into place. With Halal Trip’s website and its app user base, Halal Trip could potentially serve a big role in crowdfunding #PledgeYourLunch as a yearly Ramadan charity event. We will be using LaunchGood as a platform for us to connect users from all over the world to support this campaign. LaunchGood acts as a platform that enables crowdfunding for various causes and campaigns. To launch our campaign, we wanted to start from our very own home, Singapore, and we wanted to reach beyond and contribute to a bigger cause - education.
Founded in 2014, the FFFA’s main objective has always been to feed Singapore’s less fortunate, regardless of race, religion and creed. FFFA is an organisation that provides free Halal meals which are nutritious and tasty to those in need and who qualify for one of their assistance programmes. FFFA aims to help low income individuals out of poverty by not only providing them the opportunity to earn but to also better themselves out of their current situation.
Cahaya Surya Bakti is an NGO based in Malaysia, and strives to meet the needs of the growing Rohingya population in the state of Johor. Running 3 schools for Rohingya refugee children and teenagers in Tampoi, Kluang and Pekan Nanas, Cahaya Surya Bakti is currently fundraising for the building of their new school to cater a larger student population, and increase access to education for Rohingya children. They will also be hosting literacy and vocational classes for over 18 year olds. HalalTrip aims to support this meaningful cause through this campaign and go further than feeding the poor in Singapore, but to also help Rohingya children, seeking refuge in our region.
With humble origins, Pledge Your Lunch was simply a pitch to six classmates. But through Allah’s mandate, Ramadan is in fact a gift and an opportunity that we can use to do ourselves a favour and do good deeds, by helping others, and feeding our own souls to contribute to the society.
If you had asked me in 2007 whether Pledge Your Lunch would ever see the light of day, I wouldn’t have had the faintest idea that I’d be planting the seeds of my simple economic designs in future, but lo and behold – the gears have already been set in motion!
It is in my deepest hope that #PledgeYourLunch will go over and above its launch this year and grow into a social movement that heals the planet as we all strive to empathise with the poor especially in the blessed month of Ramadan.
A successful launch will go a long way into inspiring others to join the #PledgeYourLunch movement, and insha Allah, it is my deepest hope that Ramadan will be known as not only the month of #PledgeYourLunch, but the global month of charitable giving.
Let's do our part to solve hunger in our communities.
Click here to join the #PledgeYourLunch movement today!