Yesterday there was a package left for me at the front door; from a sister who I hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. A container of food for my family, with a beautiful message stating that she was missing me.

She was a volunteer at National Zakat Foundation (NZF), she enclosed some food vouchers for groceries and meat. She knew me well that I wouldn’t accept the package if she handed it to me. So, she left it at my front door.

I found myself unable to contain my emotions. It wasn’t the first gift I had received. But this time it was different. The simplest acts of kindness have profound effects after we have been fighting for the longest time.

The food was delicious of course, but it was the gesture that hit me the hardest. The fact that someone had remembered me. That somehow, this sister had reached through the unaccommodating stale walls of isolation and for that brief moment I was seen, acknowledged and supported.

People say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes, it feels like the opposite is true. Tests break us in a million little ways and the thought that it will all pass and get better is sometimes far from a certainty. Of course, we put our trust in Allah and keep pushing on. We have to. But quite often, the most difficult struggle is the internal one we face, because it is the foundation upon which everything else relies.

To be brave and tenacious enough to grasp onto hope, the belief that we have what it takes to get through this. Just like a boat trying to make its way across an ocean cannot survive a hole which allows water to seep in, so too, it is with hopelessness – even when the smallest amount seeps in, it’s enough to make you sink.

The pandemic has been difficult for us all. Continuous lockdowns, layers of confusion and anxiety, fear about our health and future. Intense feelings which can be debilitating when you belong to the vulnerable cohort of society. Measures preventing the positive feelings of connection, belonging, support. Drop by drop, the hopelessness rises, making us question how much more we can withstand.

This is why these seemingly simple gestures of love and support are so important. They have the power to shift our focus from one which is negative and stagnant, to everything positive. Forgetting our struggles long enough to remind us that we are part of an amazing ummah, one that is brave enough to mend the holes at the bottom of our boats and remind us not to give up.

A simple act of kindness does so much more than alleviating the external struggle. It restores our foundation of hope. It reminds us that we are not forgotten. Even miles apart, collectively we can stop the despair from setting in and allow hope to seep in instead.