Introducing one of our youngest volunteers – Halima. At just 19-years old, Halima volunteers in the kitchen our Windsor Residence, and already has many years of volunteering under her belt.
Halima was born in Canada, but her path to volunteering began while she and family were living in Egypt. “I had been working with my teacher, learning to read and memorize the Qur’an, and I was able to memorize the entire Qur’an.” Halima is justifiably proud of the special certificate and designation as Hafidha she received for this accomplishment, but at the time, had no idea that this would lead her to towards her first volunteer role.
After Halima’s family returned to Windsor, the head of the teaching program at the local Mosque mentioned that with Halima’s great achievement and knowledge, she would be the ideal volunteer to help teach Arabic and help others to memorize the Qur’an. So, at just 13 years old, she began to work within her community at the Mosque.
From there, Halima describes wanting to give back in even more ways. “My teacher in Egypt had helped me so much, and she did all her work at no cost. But she told me, ‘The only way you can repay me is to go out in the world and do good.’ I wanted to repay her, and honour her contribution to my world.” Halima’s parents are East African, and as part of their Islamic custom, they taught and encouraged their children to engage in an ongoing charity, or sadaqah jariyah. Volunteering and other forms of charity (donating, cooking food, or building houses in someone’s name) are integral to their beliefs.
So, Halima got involved with a group that held motivational seminars on improving one’s character, morality and how to conduct oneself in the community at large, hosted at the University of Windsor. She also took part in other events at the Mosque, especially in the kitchen. As with many cultures, food is representative of love, sharing and giving, and that fit in perfectly with Halima’s perspective. “Our Mosque served food downtown at the Mission to the homeless, and every Ramadan we would cook and serve free meals to anyone who came into the Mosque.”
From that basis, she started looking for opportunities outside the Mosque, which lead her to Hospice. “I had discovered Hospice when I was looking for a new opportunity, but didn’t know much about it. I thought ‘let’s look into this one,’ so I checked out the website, and once I looked into it further, I knew that Hospice was for me.” Inspired by her mother, who is a caretaker, Halima felt that Hospice was a perfect fit with her upbringing and what she had learned from her Mom. “My mother always emphasized the importance of helping others in need, and I immediately realized that’s part of why working at Hospice resonates with me.”
Halima volunteers in the kitchen at the Windsor Residence, and it’s truly a labour of love for her. Her joy is so evident in her smile as she says, “I just love it! Hospice is such a loving, warm environment. It’s just a beautiful place.” She’s not only volunteering at Hospice, but taking on back-to-back shifts, and recruiting some of her friends to join as Hospice volunteers.
Halima represents the beauty and generosity of giving back, and we’re proud that volunteers like her are the future of our Hospice.