As an International Studies major, I enjoy being surrounded by people of various cultures, getting to know their background, and hearing personal stories. At the beginning of my fellowship, I had a chance to accompany my supervisor and co-worker in distributing meal coupons to some of the Somali community on the North and West side of Columbus. I found this to be one of my favorite events that I have been able to attend at LifeCare.
The first distribution I attended occurred right before Ramadan began – which consists of a month of prayer and fasting. Being naïve to what exactly Ramadan is, I found myself researching after leaving the coupon distribution, intrigued to learn more about what Muslims practice during this month. This year, Ramadan lasted from June 5 to July 5. For those of you who may not know what Ramadan entails – Ramadan is a month where Muslims fast from dawn to dusk in an effort to strengthen their relationship with God. Fasting reminds them of those less fortunate and forces them to remove themselves from worldly desires.
The most recent distribution took place this past Thursday, July 7, as Ramadan had just come to an end. We were able to hear about the celebration that took place the day before which consisted of “a lot of food and drink”, said the lead volunteer at the distribution site. I found it extremely interesting to hear firsthand about this event in which so many people around the world participate in. Contrary to last month, the Somali people exhibited new excitement to receive coupons because of the ability to eat at any time of the day in the upcoming month. I enjoyed learning more about their culture, hearing their language, seeing the women’s beautiful dress and hijabs, and even seeing a few henna tattoos.
LifeCare gives out approximately 3,000 Somali coupons each month. This allows those participating to receive a free meal at different Somali restaurants located throughout central Ohio. I find it extremely beneficial to see the diverse community in which LifeCare serves. It is remarkable how LifeCare is able to cater to the Somali population’s needs and respect them by providing coupons where they can eat food from their own culture. It is especially important for those who are refugees, as part of the integration process. The ability to have access to a free meal with food from their own culture can provide a sense of comfort throughout the transition period. LifeCare strives “to lead the community in identifying and delivering health and nutrition services to meet the community’s changing needs.” This is exemplified through the distribution of Somali coupons each month.