DUBAI // Two Filipino Muslim groups in the UAE are stocking up on dates, prayer mats, and copies of the Quran to ship to poor families in the Philippines for Ramadan.
Ramadan is expected to start on July 20 and Eid Al Fitr on August 18.
"Many of our compatriots can't afford to buy dates, which are rare in the southern Philippines," said Roy Tamano, 38, adviser to the Maranao Community group (Marcom).
"During the holy month, they are focused on fasting and we don't want them worrying about their food for iftar."
There are between 600 and 800 Maranaos - people from the Muslim southern Philippines - in the UAE, most of them in Dubai and Sharjah.
Last year, Marcom sent 2,800 kilograms of dates, 300 prayer mats and 250 copies of the Quran donated by Dubai's Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities.
Mr Tamano said the quantity was not the point. "What is more important is the intention of giving zakat [almsgiving], which is one of the five pillars of Islam."
The other pillars are the shahada (testimony of faith), salat (prayer), sawm (fasting) and Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Marcom plans to send the goods by the first week of June. Volunteers will then distribute them to mosques in the Philippines.
The second group, the Muslim Overseas Filipino Workers, an organisation of more than 1,000 members from 13 Muslim groups in the Philippines and Muslim converts, has so far collected 200kg of dates and more than 20 prayer mats.
Last year, it shipped 700kg of dates and 1,000 copies of the Quran to Marawi City and the surrounding area.
"We've started asking for help from our Emirati friends who have date farms in Dhaid and the other emirates," said Abulcair Capatagan, the organisation's president.
"Many of them want to keep a low profile. They told me, 'This is for God and there's no need to mention my name'."