For me, working at USAID goes beyond the mundane: It helps to deepen and solidify my faith.
As a Muslim employee, I am privileged to work for an agency that promotes many of the same core values that my faith inspires in me. Last night’s Iftar dinner hosted by USAID represented the best of those values: partnerships reinforced by good intentions and an elevated desire to help those less fortunate across the globe.
USAID has been hosting annual Iftar dinners in Washington for over a decade. These events bring USAID leadership and staff together with NGOs and religious leaders to meet and celebrate our partnerships. Through these partnerships, we strive to alleviate the suffering of the neediest and to raise the quality of life for so many around the world.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world reflect on their many blessings while abstaining from food and water during the daylight hours. For most Muslims, it’s a challenge of spiritual and physical discipline, but one made easier by the certainty of a fortifying meal at sunset.
However, as we broke our fast last evening, I was reminded of the nearly 1 billion people across the globe who face hunger on a daily basis—200 million of them children. Their hunger is without end; not of choice, but of desperation. During Ramadan, fasting gives Muslims a degree of empathy with the less fortunate—and it can move us to do more.
Today, the United States supplies 46 million people with food aid. President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative has hit its stride by improving nutrition for 12 million children and helping nearly 7 million farmers grow their way out of poverty. The partners attending last night’s Iftar help us deliver that food aid and improve the lives of communities around the world without regard for race or religion.
While the focus last night was on the work that USAID does in Muslim communities, our partnerships go well beyond that. Hunger and suffering afflict all and all need to be involved in the response. Events like last night’s Iftar dinner help to celebrate the progress we have made, but we are also inspired to continue the hard work that remains.
As we broke our fast and soothed our hunger in the company of so many who share a common goal, my resolve increased to do more to help those who remain hungry: to make sure they have access to clean water, basic education, economic opportunities and good governance.
I am thankful that my work allows me to wake up each morning and do just that every day.