Dirty pots clanking in the sink as the dishes pile up. Girls laughing as they crack a joke over the tomatoes they are dicing. The sound of sizzling peppers as volunteer sautés on the stove top, chopped apples caramelizing in the sun as they sit in cinnamon and brown sugar on the counter, waiting to be baked to perfection. The smell of marinated chicken wafting around the kitchen, immersing itself in between all the bustling bodies as volunteers are hard at work providing a Mediterranean delight of a dinner. Outside the little children are enjoying the sun as it shines on them. It’s a beautiful day for them to be playing out on the monkey bars in the backyard as their laughter echoes into the kitchen from the open window.
If you were with us at our Taste of Home event at the Ronald McDonald house, this is what you would have seen looking around the place. It’s easy to get lost in all the broken hearts and dismal state of affairs that you see and hear of these days from around the world. It seems that terrible tragedies are becoming part of our everyday dynamics. But in a small part of Edmonton, our youth set aside their Sunday to help bring some sunshine into a dark day. To help bring a smile to a sad face, to help make an otherwise bad day somewhat tolerable. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Ronald McDonald House, it is a redeveloped mansion that provides a home for the families of sick children that are receiving treatment in the University of Alberta Hospital located nearby. These families spend all day with their children who are receiving medical treatment in the hospital, and for many it is not an easy time.
I spent my Sunday listening to aching parents expressing their love, pride and worries over their children. Me and my fellow volunteers looked around and saw that with our small actions we can help alleviate some of the hassle and worry from these overburdened shoulders. Not only did we get a chance to comfort them with the knowledge that today we will cook for you, we allowed them a moment to realize they can spend a few hours for themselves. For once these parents can rest and not be focused on what everyone else needs or what to feed them, but instead find a moment to just live in the moment for themselves, the resulting smiles were well worth it. It also helps that everybody loves Mediterranean food *wink wink* so everyone appreciated the dinner and we even handed out a few recipes. I have definitely redeemed myself from my Lasagna Soup fail that my RYC buddies will never let me live down.
All in all Taste of Home was a success. It was a success for the families of Ronald McDonald as fed about 50 people and brought smiles to plenty of faces. It was a success for volunteers who came out to help as we learned a little bit more about each other and developed new friendships. Sometimes the best kind of gift is the one of patience, understanding and empathy; sometimes the best kind of reward is going home with aching feet knowing you did something good for someone else and that you were a part of bringing some light into someone’s life. May Allah continue to grant us these chances to be the examples of the changes we want to see in the world (Ameen)