It’s a birthday Haris Khan will never forget — two days before he turned 31, Khan lost his father to COVID-19 in January.
A few months later, on April 22, his mother also succumbed to the illness. Within the span of three months, he lost both his parents.
“This has been an extremely difficult year for myself, my younger siblings,” Khan said.
“I’m trying to give back to the community in the memory of my parents and this is what my parents taught us and now we’re continuing our parents’ legacy of helping each other.”
They may be gone, but certainly not forgotten as Khan has been organizing a community-wide food drive — an iftar drive — in honour of them for friends and fellow Muslims during the month of Ramadan.
Iftar is the evening meal that Muslims eat following sunset to break their day-long fast.
Following the death of his father, Khan had already decided to expand this year’s food drive and deliver food to people across Regina in an effort to reach other community members in need of a meal during this isolating time.
With the help of community sponsors, Khan and his team of volunteers purchase meals from a couple of different restaurants across the city.
When Khan first started the initiative, they were distributing 30 meals. Now, on average they donate 60 meals and that number goes up to 80 on the weekend.
Khan says they’ve dropped off food at shelters and primarily help students juggling school while fasting.
“I am a student myself, so I know how it feels when you have to balance your work life with studies and then you have to work at the same time and prepare your exam and then preparing a meal. A little help, I would say, is really great,” said Adnan Shaikh, one of the volunteers helping out with the food drive.
“I would say that I really appreciate their efforts, and what they’re doing is super appreciated,” said Hussain Ali, a supervisor at Amados Pita, which is one of the restaurants the group works with.
Ali says they’re happy to be able to help with the drive and are also thankful for the extra business it brings them, especially after going through a financially challenging year.
Now, after losing his parents too soon — despite the entire family following COVID-19 protocols — Khan hopes others will not be taking the rest of this pandemic lightly.