Fowad Ahmed, Ahmadiyya College, Kano, Nigeria
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc across the world. People have lost jobs, assets and, most tragically, lives. Lockdowns have been enforced by governments worldwide to limit the spread of the virus.
However, the impact it has had on the economy has been nothing short of catastrophic. From what was supposed to be a temporary closure of businesses, for some business owners, it became permanent as it was economically unfeasible to continue to run their businesses.
This unfortunate reality has been most vigorously experienced in the developing world, where governments are unable to afford to provide loans and grants to hand out to businesses so that they may stay afloat.
Those who are not fortunate enough to work for a post in the government with a guarantee of receiving a salary are struggling to pay rent, bills and most importantly, three square meals for their families.
A problem that was already so prevalent in these countries has been exacerbated by this pandemic. The lockdown that was supposed to save lives by preventing the spread of the virus has brought out another epidemic, which is rife already – hunger. I myself have witnessed it here in Nigeria where the majority of people are daily wage workers, whether they are street traders selling bread, mechanics or tailors.
The restrictions on movement has put their lives in a desperate state because of the lack of customers. This is where Humanity First have come in for assistance. They have not only assisted in the developing world, but also in the developed nations where people are struggling to keep food on the table.
Humanity First Nigeria started their Covid-19 relief efforts in Lagos last month where they distributed food palliatives to those in desperate need. These relief packages made a very positive impact in easing the difficulties of many people, regardless of faith or background. More than 500 families were assisted with this distribution.
In what is known as the northern hub of the country in the city of Kano, where I am based, 13 volunteers for Humanity First Nigeria and I had the opportunity to serve the people in need. 110 relief parcels were prepared which contained rice, beans, spaghetti, seasoning cubes, cooking oil and soap. These food parcels were distributed in different areas of the city, both rural and urban, serving hundreds of people in need.
During this distribution, I was given an eye-opening experience when I came to realise the effects this pandemic was having on people. I came across widows who were in distress, unable to feed the children they were left to look after. The relief and happiness on the faces of the people is something which is priceless and is what brings peace to the heart.
This was only possible with the generous donations made to Humanity First and also the volunteers on the ground who assisted in the distribution. One such volunteer who passionately helped this cause is a non-Ahmadi part-time rickshaw driver and full-time school teacher, Mr Ilyas Musa. He usually spends his days during the pandemic solely on using his rickshaw, especially in the three days during the week in which the state government has allowed movement in daylight hours.
Instead of using the day of the distribution to make as much money as possible to keep himself in a better financial state, he decided to sacrifice some of these days solely for the sake of helping people in need. He spent his time in assisting with locating and delivering the bulk food palliatives, which he also helped to pack. When I asked him why he refused the opportunity to make some extra money, he simply said:
“I don’t have the financial means of assisting people in need. I am therefore unable to gain the blessings of this type of good deed. However, with this opportunity, which has arisen with Humanity First, I am able to take part in the blessings associated with helping the people in desperate need, which I would never have been able to before.”
This shows the great enthusiasm and passion our volunteers have when it comes to assisting people at the time of need.
May Allah bless all those who contributed to this noble cause financially and those who volunteered to make this distribution a success. Amin