“My purpose, yearning, and heartfelt desire is to serve humanity; This is my job, this is my faith, this is my habit and this is my way of life.” [Barahin-E-Ahmadiyya, Part 2, Page 88]
During the harsh winters of Toronto, Canada, an alarming number of homeless people lose their lives every year. The media reports that an average of more than 100 people without shelter are found dead. Shelters are at capacity throughout the winter and many vulnerable members are sent away due to unavailability of space. This issue, however big, unfortunately does not receive the attention it needs. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada (AMYA) had the opportunity to come up with a humble solution to this heart-touching issue. With the mere blessings of Allah the Almighty, along with the guidance of His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (The fifth Khalifa (Caliph) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community), AMYA was able to launch a Shelter Bus, to help those in need of a warm shelter during the cold nights of the winter.
AMYA requested to use the Humanity First bus, which had already been modified to hold 20 beds, also convertible into a seating space for 40. The bus includes a kitchenette, a toilet, and storage space as well. On December 2nd, 2019, a press release was issued for this campaign.
It is scheduled to be available for the homeless every night, from 8pm to 8am, for a period of three months. Volunteers from different chapters volunteer at the bus every night. The Shelter Bus is providing a warm, secure space, a hot meal, as well as sanitary kits including several necessary items for those in need. Since its launch, the Shelter Bus has been fortunate enough to help several homeless as well as provide winter items such as jackets and gloves. On a nightly basis, an average of 65 people visit the bus and benefit from the warmth, the meal, and the comfort of a bed. So far, over 800 visitors have taken advantage of this service and each of them has provided an incredibly positive feedback and many of them are now regulars on the bus. Some have claimed that this Shelter Bus is providing them with a safe space and a sense of belonging and they are grateful for the volunteers and their services.
Thanks to the media coverage, several individuals and organizations are contacting AMYA and Humanity First on a daily basis to pledge various forms of donations, including monetary donations, food donations, as well as winter clothing and items’ donations. By the Grace of Allah, this initiative has created a sense of gratefulness, humbleness, dedication, and a sense of serving humanity among our Khuddam brothers. More and more volunteers are eager to help every night and partake from this blessed opportunity. May Allah ease the difficulties of this vulnerable group in our society and reward all volunteers abundantly. Ameen.
By Ansar Bharwana (Director of Humanitarian Services AMYA Canada)