4 Tips for Supporting Youth During Ramadan

Eva’s Phoenix
June 15, 2017

Ramadan Mubarak!

We’re in the heart of the month of Ramadan, a time of prayer, fasting, reflection, and community for many Muslims. Within youth-serving environments, there’s a lot we can do to take a proactive approach and better support young people who are observing Ramadan. It is critical that youth are not always required to do the asking for accommodations and supports; we should plan to offer it first.

Tip 1: We can avoid assumptions.

We’re in a context where Christian traditions are considered a norm and other spiritual and faith traditions don’t get the same attention and support. That in and of itself can make it difficult for youth accessing community services to disclose that they’re observing or want to observe Ramadan.

At the same time, making an assumption that a young person is observing Ramadan is also a problem. Youth in precarious situations are not usually required to fast. And some youth may find this to be a triggering time of year in general, as many people struggle during holiday, celebration, or holy seasons. There may be many reasons behind this struggle. For example, young people may be feeling mixed emotions during Ramadan because their homelessness may make them feel far from family and community practices that are important to them.

This is why it’s so important to be conscious of and put aside our assumptions. 

Tip 2: We can open space for observance.

It takes intentional effort to create a welcoming environment where youth can disclose their observance of Ramadan and feel assured that they will be supported. Here are practical things we can do to get there.

  • Offer young people a substantial snack after sunset hours. When Ramadan happens in the spring and summer months, sunset can be late in the day and food practices in youth-serving spaces may have to adjust accordingly.
  • Provide takeout containers at mealtimes for youth to be able to store some food for later.
  • Put together some portable food packages for people to take whenever they need it during the month.

Lots of youth may take advantage of these helpful offerings during the month of Ramadan, observing or not, and that’s a good thing!

Tip 3: We can have culturally appropriate foods on hand.

When it’s time to break their fasts, many people do it with something sweet. Dates and coconut water are both common items people consume. But these are not necessarily everyday snacks in youth spaces, including shelter and transitional housing spaces. Having these items on hand and creating some flexibility around purchasing specific items youth may ask for can go a long way!

Tip 4: We can host Iftar opportunities for youth.

Iftar is a time for people to get together and break their fasts in community. Creating opportunities for youth to do this together and share what Ramadan is about can be an amazing way of building community connection.

This blog post has been republished with permission from the Eva's website.

Hawa Y. Mire is the General Manager of Eva’s Phoenix, an integrated employment and transitional housing hub for homeless youth. She is a storyteller, writer, and strategist with over a decade of experience in high-impact youth program management. Her key skills include building strategic partnerships, fundraising, developing organizational infrastructure, and convening diverse stakeholders across municipal, provincial, national, and international spheres. She has consulted and produced knowledge translation tools as part of over twenty advisory committees and delivered hundreds of workshops at post-secondary, justice, and health institutions as well as grassroots community spaces. Throughout her career Hawa has engaged in cross-sectoral collaborations to build sustainably anti-oppressive communities.

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