After the uprising of 2011, the city of Benghazi experienced an increase in volunteer activities. This decreased between 2013 and 2015, but recently has begun to flourish again. During the month of Ramadan this year, activists prepare paid Iftar tables, with all the money collected donated to those in need in the city.
Ahlam al-Abadiah, president of charity organisation To You Benghazi, I Initiate, says: “Charitable activity is a way to distribute peace among people.” She confirms that many charities have stopped their activities, affecting work in the city.
Al-Abadiah says that since 2012 the organisation has participated in numerous campaigns to clean the city and plant trees. However, the war has resulted in the charity directing their work and activities to help displaced people by offering food baskets and clothes. The Al-Madar telecommunications company supports the charity.
With the approach of Suhoor, the number of attendees increases in the club where the event takes place. By the time we finish talking to Ms al-Abadiah, it has become incredibly crowded, but I am still able to ask Issa al-Fritis, 25 years old and one of the project organisers, some questions. He confirms that since 2011 there has been a change in volunteer activities, adding that the “Your Iftar is on us… and their Eid is on you” campaign has been more successful this year than the year before. The organisation used to prepare an Iftar table for the needy; today, they prepare an Iftar table where the better-off can help the needy.
“All I did was make shawarma sandwiches to serve the truly needy people,” says 19-year-old Isra, explaining that this is no more than a simple way to help others. She feels Benghazi is in need of such charitable work, in order to sustain life – things must be done to counter the war and ease its impact.
Finally, before escaping the crowds, I ask 69-year-old Yassir Hamouda why he has become involved. He replies that supporting the charity is a way to support his city – Benghazi needs to rise again through culture. New concepts, foreign to the culture of Benghazi, have infiltrated the city in the war, and these need to be changed. Charitable activities like this one could be the key to regaining the traditionally charitable and tolerant culture of Benghazi.