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On Call Halal Feeds Kansas City Health Care Workers During Ramadan

Alyssa Broadus
The meals are being purchased from Kansas City restaurants like Sohaila's Kitchen in Lenexa Public Market (above) and then delivered by volunteers to health care workers at three area hospitals.

The volunteer group is delivering halal meals from Kansas City restaurants for free to Muslim health care workers fasting on the front lines.

Ramadan is Kaitlin Abdelrahman’s favorite time of year. It’s when she became a Muslim.

“Ramadan is a really good time for introspection and giving back. It's when we increase our charity,” she says.

The holy month of Ramadan only kicked off on Friday, but giving back has been on Abdelrahman’s mind for a while. Namely, when she hears stories about what doctors are going through as they fight COVID-19 on the front lines.

Her urge to do something is what compelled her to kickstart On Call Halal, a volunteer organization in Kansas City with one mission: deliver meals allowed under Islamic law to Kansas City health care workers who are fasting for the month of Ramadan.

As an added bonus, every meal donated supports a Kansas City restaurant. On Call Halal is currently partnering with Chai Shaiin Brookside, Jerusalem Cafe in Westport, Sohaila’s Kitchen in Lenexa Public Market and Aladdin Cafe near 39th Street.

Courtesy of On Call Halal
On Call Halal tested its contact-free volunteer delivery service by running meals from Chai Shai to Children's Mercy Hospital. The test run was a success.

The first 20 meals were successfully donated to the University of Kansas Hospital on Friday morning. They also plan deliveries to Children's Mercy Hospital and Research Medical Center.

Donations to make it happen have come from individuals as well as through sponsorships from groups such as the Palestinian American Medical Association in Kansas City, whose president is also a critical care physician.

Dr. Majdi Hamarshi says that in addition to filling an unmet need, On Call Halal is raising awareness about health care workers who are fasting right now.

“I’ll be fasting this month and I’ll be fasting while taking care of sick patients in the ICU,” Hamarshi says. “I actually feel more energetic when I’m fasting. I feel lighter. But I’m not trying to say it’s easy. It’s hard.”

To complete the project during Ramadan with the three hospitals they’ve already partnered with, On Call Halal needs a total donation of 3,300 meals. As of Friday morning, they had raised enough money for 930 meals. If they raise more than that, they'll expand and provide meals to more hospitals.

Kaitlin Abdelrahman says working on the project hasn't given her a sense of control over the situation we’re all in. She still feels like she could be doing so much more to help.

It does, however, make her proud to live in Kansas City.

For the last few weeks she’s watched as the entire city has come together to support community projects, including hers.

“This project is the fruition of so many people working together,” she says. “Like it exemplifies Kansas City to a T. Because everybody did that. And that spirit of hope that Kansas City has? It should make all of us proud.”

Kaitlin Abdelrahman spoke with KCUR at the end of a recent episode of Up To Date Special Coverage: Coronavirus In KC. You can listen to their entire conversation here.

Whether it’s something happening right now or something that happened 100 years ago, some stories don’t fit in the short few minutes of a newscast. As a podcast producer at KCUR, I help investigate questions and local curiosities in a way that brings listeners along for adventures with plot twists and thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer in the end – but my hope is that we all leave with a greater understanding of the city we live in. Reach me at mackenzie@kcur.org.
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