Peace Corps Volunteers Celebrate Ramadan Worldwide

WASHINGTON – As the sun sets over the Lubombo Mountains, Peace Corps volunteer Nada Mays will mark her last Ramadan in Swaziland, where she has served as a health educator since June 2016.

“Fasting in the community has been a peaceful and inspiring experience,” said Mays of Stockton, NJ. “Being an active volunteer goes hand-in-hand with Ramadan. It is spiritually motivating and motivating spiritually to be here during this special month.”

Peace Corps volunteers around the world have been observing the holy Islamic month of Ramadan with their communities. Currently, 10 of the Peace Corps’ 64 countries are in predominantly Muslim countries and these programs account for 18 percent of all Peace Corps volunteers.

Peace Corps volunteers in Indonesia and Morocco are sharing their Ramadan stories and experiences on Instagram using the hashtag #RamadanInstaChallenge. In Morocco, Matt Rogers, a youth development volunteer from Portland, OR, has found the month of fasting a great way to meet families in his community. He wrote a blog about his experience.

“Most of my friends and their families now know that I'm not Muslim, yet they happily welcome me to iftar (the breaking of the daily fast),” said Rogers. “Observing Ramadan gave me an extra push to meet more people, which eventually led to more friendships and work opportunities.”

In the predominantly Christian country of Swaziland, Mays found a mosque to call home and is open with her community about her Muslim faith. Last year she cooked a small feast for her host family to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

“People here are accepting and full of hospitality,” said Mays. “I learned about them and they learned about me. My favorite thing about my community is the love that its members have for one another. People are so generous and share so much even though at times they have very little.”

For Peace Corps volunteer Rehan Khan, observing Ramadan in The Gambia is a time of reflection and togetherness with fellow Muslims.

“I feel even closer to the members of my community during this time due to the fact that we are all Muslim,” said Khan who is from Winter Garden, FL. “My fellow villagers told me it would be very difficult to fast in The Gambia versus America, but I found that to be very untrue. Fasting alongside friends and family in The Gambia has been a very rewarding experience for me and has brought me much closer to my village community.”

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

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