A touch of sharing during Ramadan

To help his peers, student Mohd Irfaan Mohd Ariffin will set aside $5 a day for The ST School Pocket Money Fund.
To help his peers, student Mohd Irfaan Mohd Ariffin will set aside $5 a day for The ST School Pocket Money Fund.

A nationwide campaign during the month of Ramadan this year will feature a slew of new initiatives, from a charity drive that encourages students to help peers in need to a mobile app that lets the community carpool to prayer locations.

Yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim launched the Touch of Ramadan campaign at the Al-Ansar Mosque in Bedok. He said: "We want to make Ramadan not only a month of blessing, but also a month in which we can contribute back."

Ramadan, the fasting month, is expected to start on Friday evening.

To encourage the spirit of giving, one initiative will see some 10,000 students from mosque madrasahs and kindergartens saving part of their pocket money and collections received during Hari Raya celebrations for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF), which helps needy students.

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Junyuan Secondary School student Mohd Irfaan Mohd Ariffin, 15, who received his donation can yesterday, said he would give $5 a day to the cause. "It is a privilege to give. Instead of spending my pocket money on unnecessary items, I can use it to help others ," he said.

To encourage a healthier lifestyle, healthy cooking roadshows and health screenings will be held as well, at six mosques islandwide. A booklet on healthy cooking tailored to the Malay community will be introduced too.

Those going to mosques or other places at night for special Ramadan prayers called Terawih can carpool via TeraWhere, a free mobile app.

Talking about the app, Dr Yaacob said: "The idea of carpooling and sharing, especially during Ramadan, is certainly a wonderful idea, not only to save the environment but also to build communities."

A group of youth came up with the app. One of them, undergraduate Mohamed Faruq Mohamed Rasid, 26, said it promotes bonding within the community. "It allows users to meet new people and build bonds with their neighbours who are also heading for evening prayers."

Separately, an annual charity drive for the month of Ramadan was officially launched yesterday at Joo Chiat Complex.

The Tabung Amal Aidilfitri (TAA) Trust Fund, a collaboration between 17 Malay/Muslim organisations, installed two donation boxes at the shopping centre in Geylang Serai.

TAA has set a fund-raising target of $850,000 for the year's campaign. It has about 3,000 beneficiaries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'A touch of sharing during Ramadan'. Print Edition | Subscribe