In the comfort of our heated homes, we overlook the bitter-cold reality faced by our less fortunate brothers and sisters in poverty-stricken countries. As winter approaches, let us begin a journey of understanding the hardships endured in these forgotten lands.
“Whoever saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind.” [5:32]
Winter in these regions is not the same as winter for us; it’s a merciless enemy. In Afghanistan, winter temperatures can drop to -20°C. Over 2 million Afghans have inadequate shelter, sleeping in tents or on the ground in these harsh conditions. Think about the coldest winter night you’ve experienced, where your breath forms a frosty cloud in the air. Now imagine enduring that every night without adequate shelter, heating, and warm clothes. For these vulnerable people, surviving winter is an ongoing battle against the unforgiving cold.
As temperatures plummet, health risks soar, especially for the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and the sick. In Pakistan, over 50,000 people die each year from cold-related illnesses. In Syria, over 100,000 people have been displaced by the war and are now at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Clean water and sanitation becomes a distant dream.
Winter only intensifies the strain on communities when it comes to food insecurity. It worsens shortages and pushes more and more families to the brink of malnutrition. Over 17 million people are facing food insecurity in Yemen due to the harsh nature of winter. Envision the heartache of parents unable to put a warm meal in their children’s stomachs. As each winter passes, the struggle becomes more difficult than the last.
Our children are the most precious things to us, and we would do anything to protect them. For the children in these communities, winter doesn’t mean a joyful break from school. Instead, it forces them out of their classrooms, disrupting their education. It is estimated that over 25 million children in the Middle East and North Africa are out of school. The consequences of this disruption are endless, and keeps them in the cycle of poverty.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” (Muslim)
Even in the face of such adversity, there’s a ray of hope – you. Your efforts and compassion shines a light when it is most needed. Together, we can recognise the urgency of winter’s challenges and work tirelessly to provide shelter, warmth, food, and education. Even in the darkest of winters, One Ummah provides emergency aid in over 20 calamity-stricken countries to provide them with the essentials to stay alive in the cold.
As we prepare our wardrobes with warm clothes and fill our cupboards with nourishing foods, it is crucial to remember that awareness alone is not enough. We must turn our awareness into action and make a difference through collective efforts. Only then, can we truly make a difference.
Share this with your family and friends as a reminder to spread awareness and amplify the voices of those suffering in icy temperatures. As cold as winter gets, the warmth of our hearts will always bring positive change to the lives of those in need.