Ramadaan in Mauritania

Gift of the Givers has been active in Mauritania for two years now, mainly with water and feeding projects. As many may know, Mauritania is often called the Land of the Poets due to the people’s adeptness at writing, memorising and reciting Arabic poetry. Unfortunately, if ever there was a poem about the country’s economic condition, it would be one of tragedy, as Mauritania is one of the poorest countries in the world.

This year, 09 July 2013, GOTG has organised Ramadaan feeding in three different areas of Mauritania: a masjid in Nouakchott, in the village of Matamoulana and the mahdarah (traditional Islamic school) of Taysir (both villages are located in the south of the country).

In Nouakchott, iftar is provided at the mosque located in a busy, densely populated area in the city. There are many working people and passers-by that need a place and some food to break the fast.

For the first time this year Ramadan feeding will be done in Taysir, a village located between Nouakchott and Rosso.  This small, special village of learning is run by the famous Mauritanian scholar Shaykh Hassan Khadim, and is home to many Mauritanian students as well as students from all over Africa who live and study for free.  Iftar and supper will be arranged for the students that are studying there who come from very impoverished backgrounds.  This is a blessed opportunity to help this village and the remarkable people who live and study there.

In Matamoulana, we took a different approach. People are poor, but they possess honour and pride. We consulted with village elders and local women and we decided to make daily food parcels for them to cook their own iftar meal. The process involved acquiring names of some of the poorest families of the villages and contacting them to collect their food parcels. A parcel consists of one kilogram of couscous or pasta (they don’t eat rice at night), vegetables, fish or chicken, green tea (a must-have for Mauritanians), sugar, bread and a spice used for cooking their dish. In addition, iftar is also provided to people coming to the local mosques such as drinks, bread and dates.

The response has been overwhelming. One widow with three young children thanked the GOTG team wholeheartedly and said that last Ramadan her children cried from hunger. When asked why she didn’t go to the mosque for food she said that she was too shy to go there and that this Ramadan she prayed and asked the Almighty to help her feed her children.
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