'I fast to feel the pain of displaced children,' says 7-year-old

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 I fast to feel the pain of displaced children, says 7-year-old
Fatima Sohail Roge

Dubai - Seven-year-old Indian girl had to subdue the feelings of hunger and thirst everyday she went to school.


Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Thu 22 Jun 2017, 9:05 PM

Ramadan marks a special occasion for Muslim families, but this year, the holy month had a special flavour for an Indian family as their young daughter fasted for the first time.
Fatima Sohail Roge, 7, had to subdue the feelings of hunger and thirst everyday she went to school.
"I went to school on the first day of Ramadan and watched my friends eat. The first 10 days were the hardest, but I overcame the challenge and fasted the entire month," said Fatima, a second grader at GEMS Our Own English High School.
She noted that her teachers and parents' recognition inspired her to continue. "My parents kept telling me that fasting will help me understand what Ramadan is about, and will help me feel the pain of children in Syria and Somalia who were displaced with limited access to food and water."
She added, "All these words helped me get through and gave me a purpose to fast."
Fatima said while hunger was a major challenge, the feeling decreased as days passed. "Fasting taught me the power of the mind; that we can take control of our feelings. It also reminded of the small blessings - food and water- that we take for granted every day."
After the holy month is over, the family is flying to their hometown, Mumbai, to celebrate Eid. Fatima will receive gifts and greetings from her relatives and friends.
The family holds such gatherings to encourage children who fast for the first time. Her father, Sohail Roge, told Khaleej Times, "She saw how the family and relatives appreciated her cousin who she fasted last year and got motivated since then."
Sohail, Dubai-based construction manager for the last 14 years, said that the main lesson he passes on to his two daughters. Fatima and two-year-old Kashfiya, is the importance of charity. "Most people focus on food during Ramadan, but I'm teaching my children to take a different path, which is charity," he said.
"I give them money and encourage them to donate it to the needy. This serves the purpose of Ramadan, which is to feel the poor around the world. Our focus is the fast, not the feast."
Sohail added that Ramadan is maintenance for the body, and mainly the soul. It is a much needed break from the bad habits that people adopt.
"The holy month is about togetherness. Amidst war conflicts and attacks, the holy month brings us together and allows us to celebrate our differences while giving a helping hand to those who need it," said Sohail.

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