The Feast of Giving

“Did He not find you an orphan and give [you] refuge?” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is asked in the Holy Quran. A question that could be asked of all of us, it hints at a great blessing that has been bestowed upon us at birth — our parents, our refuge — and just where would we be had we not been so fortunate?

This penetrating question has created GiveLight, an organization with the simple goal of being that refuge for perhaps the most helpless of beings, an organization that aims to help those who are starting their lives entirely on their own. Who knows who else is calling from this precipice? Perhaps a doctor, a teacher or, even more profoundly, a mother? This is the call we hoped to answer through Global Bistro — a GiveLight event that invites us to share of ourselves, our culture, our food, our time and, simply, our lives, to make the world seem a little bit smaller, to bring our hearts just a little bit closer.

“It’s a great way to bring the community together for a great cause,” Naeema Ilyas, a project manager for this event, comments. “A fun family event to spread some joy and do something that really matters.”

The Bistro indeed brought together everyone — from the foodies who wanted to share their favorite recipe while munching on their friends’ culinary inventions to the sisters who traded fashionista secrets along with their colorful hijabs to the youth that exchanged books and discussed their love of reading. Even the young children joined in, taking some time out from henna designs and face painting to create beautiful Giving/Sadaqa jars, the charity of innocent hearts.

It was an international feast, not just to indulge in the delicacies of our neighbors or the conversations of our friends but to cultivate our community and, in doing so, construct a global community to support the ones who are indeed without support.

“Giving can be very contagious,” Naeema concluded.

This was clearly evident in the execution of this event, purely a product of volunteers. More than fifty people of different backgrounds came together to make the Global Bistro possible, inviting another 300 people to join in the festivities. With the additional help of the generous sponsors, Global Bistro contributed almost $4000 to GiveLight, to the orphans who can now receive the basic necessities of life that the rest of us take for granted.

“It has been an amazing experience for me. It felt good giving back to a cause that is so dear to my heart,” Naeema said. “It shows that if every single person just does a little bit, standing together we can do so much.”

“My biggest takeaway from this event is that kindheartedness and team effort are all that’s needed to make a difference. I have met wonderful people while organizing this event and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many generous souls unite behind one cause,” Mahira Razzak, a project manager for the event, added.

While we took joy in knowing that we came together to bring light to darkened young lives, we were also humbled by the many more children that need our help to fight through the despair of their circumstances, by the many desperate situations that cannot be forgotten.

“There is still a lot that needs to be done to secure the future of orphans.” Mahira mused. “I am reminded of this every time I go back home, when my kids look wide-eyed at the young kids begging and sleeping on the streets.”

This is what initially inspired Mahira to be a part of GiveLight, to join sister Dian Alyan in her mission.

Through her participation and many others like her in the Global Bistro, the spark of good burns a little brighter, it travels from one heart to the next, it fuels a torch of charity, it gives light to GiveLight — it illuminates the common humanity of the world.

In Mahira’s words, “it makes a difference.”

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“GiveLight is a cause that really touches my heart. Being a mother of 3 and seeing how we can provide for them and how well they have it MashaAllah, not just in terms of food, shelter, wordly necessities but also the love they have from their mom and dad this makes me so sad to see kids who are deprived of the feelings and love that comes along with family. I don’t want to help just for the necessities but also wish to bring joy and happiness to their lives by showing that there are people who care and that they deserve happiness just like any other child.” – Naeema Ilyas

“I got to talking about the Global Bistro with sister Dian when we participated in the walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I was drawn to her energy and how fondly she described the homes she has built for orphans not just in her home country but all over the globe. As a mother and being born and raised in a developing country, I realize that there is still a lot that needs to be done to secure the future of orphans. I am reminded of this every trip I make back home when my kids look wide-eyed at the young kids begging and sleeping on the streets.” – Mahira Razzak

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