Dakar – The holy month of Ramadan in Senegal is an occasion for promoting the values of social solidarity through initiatives, led by authorities, religious sects and civil society organizations as well as individuals, to organize iftar dinners for the needy and passers-by.
In a country where Muslims make up 94 percent of the population and has a poverty rate of 46.7 percent according to World Bank estimates, solidarity action imposed by religious teachings and human values, constitutes an approach to support the needy in the month of fasting.
In the Plateau district, downtown the capital city of Dakar, the Senegalese Association for Islamic Training and Humanitarian Action is keen to organize iftar dinners every Friday for the poor in the streets of the district, and at hospitals for persons accompanying patients undergoing treatment.
"It’s about a tradition we have started since 1996 when we were students, where we noticed that many of the needy and relatives of patients who are forced by circumstances to spend the hospitalization period with their patients coming from remote areas, especially those who are suffering from financial hardship," said Executive Director of the Association Khalifa Babacar Ndiaye.
"This issue has prompted us to organize iftar dinners during the month of Ramadan, to enable such persons to break their fast," he added in a statement to Morocco news agency.
The Association distributes about 500 iftar meals every Friday in the streets of Dakar downtown, Le Dantec Hospital and mosques," Ndiaye explained, adding: "We hope to increase this figure to between 700 and 1,000 meals."
According to the executive director, the Association is doing this solidarity action, thanks to the contributions made by the members of the Association and generous donations.
He pointed out that "there is a team of members and volunteers from various Sufi Orders and age groups, including even Christians, are helping us to prepare and distribute the iftar meals," asserting that "many associations are doing similar actions."
In addition to the solidarity through associative action, the authorities in their turn engage in this solidarity action, where Dakar Municipality has recently organized a Solidarity Day, in coordination with the Great Mosque of Dakar, to provide needy residents with food supplies, such as sugar, milk, dates and coffee.
As Senegal is considered a country of Sufi Orders par excellence, it is not surprising that the followers of these orders are diligently involved in charitable work during the holy month of Ramadan.
At Massalikoul Jinan Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Dakar's popular neighborhoods, the Muridiyya Order organizes daily fast-breaking dinners, funded by Representative of the General Caliph of the Muridiyya in Dakar Ahmadou Mbackiyou Faye.
Babacar Mbaye, in charge of organizing iftar dinners in the mosque explained that "this initiative, which was launched 10 years ago, is open to anyone who are in need for iftar meals, without any discrimination. We welcome all Muslims, whether poor or just passing by."
For this purpose, the extensive outer space of the mosque was furnished with carpets and chairs, making it possible to accommodate the largest number of beneficiaries," he added.
In addition to this organized work, it happens that one encounters individuals, who are not necessarily affiliated with any associations or Sufi Orders, roaming the downtown streets on foot or in their vehicles, before Maghrib adhan (call to sunset prayer), bringing with them bottles of water and snacks to distribute them among the needy, including the elderly, people with disabilities, widows and the poor.
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