Ummi at Play – Muslim Mothers With a Cause
This Sunday, 16th December 2012, a community of mothers will see the culmination of their month-long efforts manifest in a Charity Playdate at Kowabunga! Education Centre at Blk 361, Bukit Batok St 31. It will take place from 11 am to 4 pm.
Moved by the crisis in Gaza – especially mothers who lost their young children, and children who lost their mothers – these mothers who are part of a 200-member-strong group called “Ummi at Play” decided to extend a helping hand through a project they call ‘Ummi at Play for Gaza’.
They were also encouraged by their sense of duty to be role models to their young. Suhaila Jamat, an Ummi at Play says, “In my heart, I knew I have to do something to further nurture my children’s spirit of love and compassion in helping the innocents affected by the conflict.”
Masyithah Amad Ali & Nurhidayati Umm Umar, two mothers whom I met last week, recounted how the Gaza fundraiser really took a life of its own. From a spontaneous suggestion in the Facebook group to sell busybags (self-contained, age-appropriate activity that can be pulled out and easily assembled and completed by a child by himself or with an adult; materials in the busybags are usually low-cost items that can be found around the house) and cupcakes online, it evolved to a fundraising event that is now the Charity Playdate.
Through the Ummi at Play for Gaza project, this community of mothers hope to not only raise funds but also to emphasise the importance of nurturing empathy and compassion in our children, so that we can effect change in the future generation through play.
Nurhidayati Umm Umar said,[quote]“We feel that it is important to do this as we need to role-model to our children how we can deal with issues of war and conflict in a meaningful, productive, and peace-loving way. The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. So much of what binds us together in society depends on it, and so much of what is wrong with our world has to do with the absence of that quality.
By modeling empathy and involvement in charitable works, we hope to demonstrate to our very young the importance of caring for other people, the ability to connect with humanity and empathise with the suffering of other people, and to act responsibly and with respect to other people.”[/quote]
Not Just Mothers
While the idea for the fundraiser came from the mothers, they have been surprisingly supported by the fathers & the children too.
Alfian Ismail, wife to Ummi at Play Marlina Isa, said,
“When my wife told me about the initiative, I was skeptical as to whether a group of busy mothers can pull this off. As I saw my wife work late into the night to make busy bags (I didn’t even know what that was though I am sure she tried explaining to me), I knew that these mothers mean serious business.
Inevitably, I was drawn to support the initiative, be it to take care of the boys while wife is working on the project or cutting the labels alongside perfectionist mothers. These little bits of effort is nothing compared to the Cause and the suffering of the people in Gaza. Also hope that the initiative will raise empathy in the hearts of the little ones & increase humility & gratefulness in our beings.”
Qaseh, a 5 year-old girl who was helping her Ummi at Play mother Sri Noordin Asmar, had this to say when asked why they are doing the busybags,
“Sell the bags to get money. Give the money to another person (referring to Mercy Relief) to pass to the Palestinians to help them.”
Qaseh added, “Prophet Muhammad (S) said we should help poor people. Allah loves people who help each other. Qaseh wants Allah to love Qaseh forever.”
These are just some of the highlights that you & your child can look forward to during this Sunday’s Charity Playdate, in a casual and child centered environment where choice of activities, songs, and stories are underpinned by humanitarian themes:
Colours-Of-The-World Wall (Painting for babies and toddlers)
Cardboard Challenge (inspired by Caines’ Arcade)
Reggio-inspired Light Play Room
Sow-a-Seed (potting corner)
Create! Corner (art and craft corner)
Poetry and Prose with Ummi
Talk about Play! a workshop on Nurturing Empathy in Children through Play
Story Time with Ummi (story and craft activities)
Lost & Found, by Oliver Jeffers
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, by Julia Donaldson[/box_light]
Mothers will also have the opportunity to purchase cupcakes, cookies, macarons and handmade play manipulatives called Busy Bags, lovingly made by Ummi at Play mothers and their children, for this fundraising effort. The project has raised about S$8,000 thus far and hopes to hit the target of S$15,000 by this weekend.
100% of the proceeds of this event will go to the Mercy Relief – Gaza Armed Conflict Fundraising 2012.
Masyithah and Nurhidayati conclude that:
“In the past three weeks, the Ummi at Play community of mothers and their very young children have been working hard making busy bags, baking cupcakes and preparing for our Charity Playdate, which we hope will be a meaningful event where we will spend time with other families and their children, engaging in play and leveraging on many teachable moments where values of peace, compassion, care and empathy for others can be shared.
With every cent or dollar that a child gives up to enjoy a play activity or a cupcake, we hope that it will be an opportunity for the child to learn that what he/she is giving up is for others who have much less. We hope to meet many other young parents then!”
Ummi At Play
“Ummi at Play” is a community of mothers in Singapore who adopt and advocate playful parenting and caregiving styles. They are motivated by the seerah & sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S) to play with children to establish the closeness and connectedness between parent & child.
Masyithah Amad, an Ummi at Play says, “We also relate it to being close to God. For you to instil values in your children, you need to be close. It’s dakwah you know. You can’t just start talking to someone about the Oneness of God, you have to be friends first. So you have to be friendly with your kids as well.”
Their parenting philosophy is also rooted in Western psychologist John Bolby’s attachment theory, and other research that shows the many benefits of joining children in their world of play including emotionally-stable, resilient,confident and compassionate children
The group shares play ideas and resources, organise workshops and playdates and host Busybags Exchanges, while motivating and inspiring each other in their mothering.
For more details on the event, you may check out the Facebook Event page here.[divider]
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, a chronic reader and a news junkie.