“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart”, a famous quote which Mrs Joumana Menzalji Elljamal, owner of Dustypink, and chairperson of the non-profit organisation Sydney Community Connect Inc, loves to live by. A lady not novel to social work and helping the l community, with a vibrant past of helping others since her arrival to Australia. This Ramadan 2021, “Iftar Al Khair” was launched.

“I’ve always attended Iftars that were held for politicians, community leaders etc which have been great,” Joumana explains, “but I felt I had to do more for those in need during Ramadan. I felt the urge to give back on a broader scale,”Joumana narrates.

“Iftar Al Khair”, a project launched by Sydney Community Connect Inc, and led by Joumana, aims at offering 100 meals a day in Ramadan to any person or family in Sydney, be the person Muslim or non-Muslim who is in need. The meal includes a main meal, bread,dates, water, drinks, fruits, veggies, and sometimes chocolates or sweets. But it’s not just about the food.

“Iftar Al Khair is about bringing the community together from all walks of life, putting our hands together to offer something wholesome. It’s a way to connect and demonstrate to our youth what giving is all about. It’s a way to show what Islam is all about:kindness to every human being no matter what background, nationality or culture they are from,” Joumana explains.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received. Not only from Muslims, but from the entire community from all walks of life.” Joumana admits.

Joumana goes on to name some businesses that have generously contributed to and supported this initiative.

“Some businesses which have generously supported this project include Mr Shawarma, Nutroasters, Mdprovodres, Minabay Seafood, Crown Bexley, Bexley Wrap and Burgers, Abu Salim Greenacre, Al Aseel Restaurants to name some in addition to many individual donations – some worth thousands,” Joumana states.

“To say that seeing businesses come together and offer their food and time to the needy has been heartwarming is an understatement. I have been brought to tears by the generosity of some people in our community,” an emotional Joumana describes.

Charity work is something Joumana has always been doing. And this is not the first time. In 2019, she launched the “Do it for fashion Cancer Fundraiser Show” at the Brian Brown Theatre in collaboration with Lara Hawash which raised 5000$, and in 2020 again, the “Do it for Fashion Show” which she put together with her daughter Christine raised $7500 for Cancer Council NSW; the event which was held at the Highline Venue, Bankstown with more than 350 people attending through the support of the community.

This year, Sydney Community launched the inaugural “IWD Achievement Awards Night and Fashion Show” in calibration with Dusty Pink and La Royal.

Throughout the years, Joumana has built an amazing foundation of trust from the community around her by offering support, be it emotional, social, financial, and much more to all the people around her and fortunately, and with “Allah’s Grace” as she describes, when she called for donations and contributions to her project, the help came pouring in.

“There are so many people to thank and day after day, I’m getting more offers of help from many different people and we are not even half way through Ramadan,” Joumana states.

“I’d like to thank Jihad Dib MP and his wife Erin Dib, Mostafa Hijazi, Nadia Saleh , Rachelle Harika , Bilal Hayek , Souhair Afiouny, Ghada Hamdan, Mariam Mourad, Dr Rawha Ayoubi, Dr Anam Nazir, Rawha Hassan, Iman Kaloun, May Mansour and my two sons Ibrahim and Ali Al Jamal for volunteering. I’m sure there will be many more people to thank by the end of Ramadan too,” Joumana discloses to me with a happy heart.

When asked what gives her the energy and drive, Joumana concludes by saying she loves seeing the smile on people’s faces. “Seeing that happiness in people’s eyes is just so fullfilling. As the prophet says ‘Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity,” she concludes.