Volunteering for 'Safe Ramadan'

Young Saudis hand out meals at traffic lights to curb reckless driving


Saudi Gazette

YOUNG volunteers are targeting congested roads to hand out free meals to cars stuck in traffic rights before sunset.

It’s the last hour before sunset where there is a high risk of accidents and hasty drivers trying to reach home in time for the breaking of fast.

One group of volunteers called Jeddah Now is targeting some 400 meals a day to take the edge off of hurried drivers.

“Apart from the great reward from feeding a Muslim who is fasting, our aim is to make roads safer by helping out motorists who are late to iftar so they don’t drive recklessly and cause accidents,” says the group’s member Saad Alghamdi.

However, safety is important for the volunteers themselves to operate in a professional manner, added Alghamdi.

“We operate in a systematic manner where each member knows their role and we guide cars to stop in a safe spot to prevent further congestion,” he said.

Several groups in different cities around the Kingdom wait for the holy month to sacrifice their time spent with their families to hand out meals to passing cars.

“It’s important to invest in young people by encouraging them to volunteer and practice giving back to the community, especially during their holidays,” Alghamdi further said.

Typically, a box contains dates, cold water, a yogurt drink, a juice box and snacks.

A wider campaign titled “Ramadan Aman”, or “Safe Ramadan”, launched in 19 cities in the country to prevent traffic violations during the holy month where speedy drivers during sunset pose a threat to road safety.

Under the slogan “Ramadan without accidents”, the campaign is a social responsibility initiative carried out by different charity organizations in partnership with the General Department of Traffic.

Several other countries are participating in the campaign, including Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Bosnia and the UAE.

More than 7,000 volunteers have participated by handing out meals to cars at traffic lights.

For many, the reward of helping those in need is what drives many to participate in volunteer campaigns.

For Ahlam Volunteer Group, volunteers head out to areas in Riyadh where there are needy households and poor non-Saudi residents. Both boys and girls hand out around a thousand meals to cars at traffic lights.

The group’s member Nouf Al-Jabali advises people to try out volunteering. “I urge others to exert their efforts to bring happiness to people’s lives. Treating people with the way God wants and giving generously without waiting for return is in itself happiness.”

Volunteering is at its peak during religious seasons such as Ramadan, Eid holidays and Haj. One of the Saudi Vision 2030’s goals is to increase the number of volunteers to one million by 2030.