“I was inspired by my kids to make the world more like the place I want it to be for them – a world where they are reflected, and represented and celebrated,” said Baltimore mom Fauzia Vandermeer.
So what did she do? She created the Iftar Treat Box as a way for kids to connect with others and feel pride and joy in celebrating and sharing the upcoming Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Similar to an advent calendar, this box calendar has 30 compartments containing a milk chocolate treat behind each perforated door. Kids can open one door each day at sunset to share in the Ramadan celebration, while counting down the days to Eid at the end of the month.
For those not familiar with the holiday, Fauzia provides a brief history on the back of the calendar: during The Fast of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset during The Fast of Ramadan. They guard themselves from actions that harm another and from speaking or hearing hurtful words about another. They give generously to those in need. The break of the fast, iftar, is filled with favorite foods, celebration and prayer that nourish hearts and bodies. The Iftar Treat Box allows kids to create their own fun-filled iftar tradition.
Bringing the calendar to market has been a departure from her day-to-day activities as a radiologist at The University of Maryland; but the challenge has also created tremendous opportunity to collaborate with other makers in the Baltimore community. The calendar box art is designed by local Baltimore artist, Susan Detwiller. Fauzia and Susan worked closely together to ensure the artwork (it’s watercolor. I know. I didn’t believe it at first, either. Amazing, right?) on the boxcover highlights Islamic traditions and values. Values like community, appreciation, generosity and compassion — that so many people share regardless of faith.
(Side note… curious how Fauzia and Susan met? Susan was a substitute teacher at Fauzia’s daughter’s class. Her daughter came home from school one day and told Fauzia her substitute teacher was an artist and they needed to chat. So they had tea. Just another fabulous Smalltimore collaboration!).
Through this project, Fauzia hopes that the Iftar Treat Box becomes a beautiful and visible presence in our communities, so Muslim kids feel represented and proud to share their heritage.
Calendars can be purchased locally at Becket Hitch (Green Spring Station), Love That (Belvedere Square), Shananigans Toys Shop (Wyndhurst Village), and the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Gift Shop. You can also purchase calendars through the Iftar Treat Box website.
In keeping with the spirit of Ramadan, 5% of net proceeds will be donated The International Rescue Committee to help refugees in crisis.
Photos by Laura Black.