Dazzling feast to celebrate Eid at Westmead Hospital

Westmead Hospital midwife Safa El-Dadoun greets people to the maternity Eid feast with bags of sweets.

Muslims at Westmead Hospital did not miss out on the second biggest feast in the Islamic calendar today.

Sweet and savoury snacks were donated by midwives, nurses and members of the community to host a proper Eid celebration at the maternity ward.

Eid means feast or festival in Arabic, and Eid al-Fitr is a three-day festival to celebrate the end of fasting throughout the month of Ramadan.

Guildford parents Nabeed Rasheed and Iqra Habib were impressed with the Ramadan and Eid decorations while staying at hospital after the birth of their daughter Zahra.

An array of sweet and savoury snacks were available for mums and visitors to the ward.

“It’s a great initiative, very inclusive. We felt warmly welcomed and part of the community,” Iqra said.

“It made us more comfortable coming here, and now we feel as though we are part of Eid even though we are at hospital and not yet home celebrating with family,” Nabeed added.

The celebration was coordinated by midwife Sabah Scheiwani, who also helped organise themed decorations for the holy month of Ramadan.

Sara Tahery, who runs her own cake business, donated a table of sweets for the occasion.

Five-day-old Zahra Rasheed with dad Naveed Rasheed and mum Iqra Habib.

“This time last year I was in Nepean Hospital for the birth of my son Reza, so I know how hard it is to spend Eid in hospital,” she said.

“I wanted to do something nice for the women here, to make them happy. It was good to be part of the celebration and nice to see how much was donated by the staff.”

Eid al-Fitr follows Ramadan, a holy month of of prayer, fasting and reverence for Muslims.

For many staff across Western Sydney Local Health District, that meant no food or drink during their shifts – at least until after sunset.

Auburn Hospital staff Mohammad Kharabsheh and Ina Husein break their fast with lamingtons and iced VoVos.

“It was time to break fast and I had to run down to get some bloods off a patient,” junior doctor Zafar Rizvi said.

“I had a date in my pocket so I quickly washed my hands and popped the date in my mouth. I then had to wash my hands and get the bloods.”

Dr Istabraq Raashed said that breaking the fast was a uniting event for Muslims in the Westmead Hospital emergency department.

“The team carries dates in our pocket pants. We don’t get a chance to break our fast in a dedicated time. We kind of grab each other and make sure that each of us have a date,” he said.

Mohammad will break fast with an array of food, including fried chicken and mandarins.

Mohammad Kharabsheh from Auburn Hospital admitted that the first few days of fasting can be challenging.

“But after a week it does get easier because your body becomes used to it,” Mohammad said.

“For me it’s a little easier because I work night shift. Sometimes I sleep from about 10am until after 5pm, so I am asleep for a lot of the fast.”

Dr Raashed agrees, saying the the night shift is a Ramadan hack. During the day though she admits it is harder, but the support of her team is endearing.

Naveed and Iqra had their son Ibrahim in Toronto, Canada before moving to Australia.

“You have colleagues, even the non-Muslims, asking you ‘Have you broken your fast yet? Have a date!’ I will usually get more hangry during Ramadan so they make sure that I eat,” she said.

“I really appreciate the cultural awareness. I do the same when it is Christmas and support my colleagues who are celebrating.”

Ramadan is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate, while Eid al-Fitr is a time to bring the whole community together in celebration.

Mohammad said many Muslim staff will take the first day off work to be with their family and the community.

“We will go to Auburn Park where the Muslim community comes together,” he said.

“We will make food, take the day off work and celebrate the end of the fasting month with all our friends.”