How Do You Fast When You’re Already Starving? Ramadan in the Age of COVID

Imagine a month of fasting when you’re already hungry.

That’s what the families in this Iraqi neighborhood faced.

They belong to the poorest community in their city. Many were on the brink of starvation.

When COVID-19 hit, their dire situation got infinitely worse. Cities all over Iraq were locked down, including this one. Those lucky enough to have jobs lost them when quarantine was imposed. Supply lines ground to a halt.

ISIS, still a presence here, is stepping up its terror attacks, trying to exploit the crisis.

A young girl looks up at Dr. Ahmed as her family receives a food pack. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love

And Ramadan was approaching. The most sacred time of the Islamic year, when Muslims all over the world observe a month of prayer, daytime fasting, and gathering to feast after sunset.

But how do starving people fast?

How do they make it through the punishingly hot days without food or water, when there is nothing to nourish them after dark?

Here’s where you changed the story: You rushed 500 food packs to families who need it the most.

Food packs in the back of the truck during the delivery. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love

In each of these packs, the nourishing staples of the region: rice, cooking oil, bulgur, tomato paste, lentils, chickpeas.

Each pack will feed a family of 5 or 6 for up to two weeks.

If you’ve given us a one time gift, you did this.

If you’re a monthly supporter, you’ve fed almost 40,000 people so far—in Iraq alone—who were starving because of COVID-19 quarantines.

Even as the coronavirus keeps extended families apart during Ramadan, you’re giving households something to eat at iftar—the breaking of the fast.

You’re making sure no one starves—and no family has to sacrifice their most sacred rituals to hunger.

In this neighborhood of mud-brick houses, our team went door-to-door meeting those who had themselves gone door-to-door, begging so their children might eat.

Delivering food to hungry families locked down by COVID-19. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love

“It felt like a ghost town,” my colleague Ihsan recalled. “Houses still destroyed, very few people… the marks of war still clear on roads and buildings.”

We heard stories of disabled and special needs family members that could not be properly cared for. There were too many stories of desperate hunger.

These are the most marginalized people in the community. That’s who we seek out. That’s who we build connections with.

Rawand delivers a bag of food in front of a family’s home. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/ Preemptive Love

Because our work is about relationships. Relationships make it possible for us to respond fast when the need is great.

Relationship was was how we found this particular community: Dr. Ahmed, whose clinic you made possible in the early, critical post-ISIS years, asked if we could bring food to these families, because no one else would. He gathered and led the team of local volunteers who helped with the distribution.

A resident comes out of a shared compound for his family’s food pack. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/ Preemptive Love

Our relationship with you that meant these 500 families have food for Ramadan, during the worst pandemic in living memory.

Thank you for loving the most marginalized communities during these unprecedented times.

Dr. Ahmed (whose back is turned to the camera) and his team of volunteers don masks and gloves to keep the community and one another safe from COVID-19. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/ Preemptive Love

So many more communities are at risk of starvation as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on economic, health, and social infrastructures. Tens of thousands of people need to be fed today.

Every dollar counts. Every monthly donation makes sure the hungriest people don’t starve during quarantine… or ever. Give now.