Frontline NHS worker describes observing Ramadan while working on Covid-19 ward

A frontline NHS worker who has been living in temporary accommodation to protect her family during the pandemic says Ramadan has been “difficult” the past few weeks.

Hajrah Mukhtar, 26, says this weekend’s Eid celebrations will be a different experience but she will at least be able to spend time with her family while social distancing.

Ms Mukhtar works as a dietitian at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent.

She described her experience of working on Covid-19 wards at the hospital during Ramadan over the past few weeks.

She said: “Ramadan has been difficult this month, the temperamental weather and the heat has been hard, along with when I have been on the Covid-19 positive wards wearing my personal protective equipment (PPE); but as the month has gone on, I’ve got more used to it and now I will be quite sad it’s over.”

Ramadan is the holy month in the Islamic calendar, where Muslims fast between sunrise and sundown, pray regularly every day, spend time with family and take part in charitable work.

Ms Mukhtar has been living away from her family since the beginning of April, first staying in the Premier Inn in Ashford, being moved into a cottage on her own in Challock.

Ms Mukhtar with her family before lockdown
Ms Mukhtar with her family before lockdown (Hajrah Mukhtar/PA)

She added: “Ramadan has been strange this year, not being able to see my family every day, or visit the mosque to pray and break my fast in the evenings.

“The food is always so good, I miss it.”

Her colleague Lauren Diamond fasted with her during the first week as a show of solidarity, Ms Mukhtar said.

She added: “I really appreciated the support from her, as being away from my family – I miss the support of seeing them every day during Ramadan and being able to talk about it.

“I have been video calling with my family every day, we even held some virtual iftars on a few evenings, with my family eating in their garden on camera while I was at the cottage.

“That was really nice, as living on my own, doing my prayers and breaking my fast has been really strange, not being with my family.”

Hajrah Mukhtar in uniform
Ms Mukhtar says this weekend’s Eid celebrations will be a different experience (Hajrah Mukhtar/PA)

This weekend is Eid, a celebration marking the end of Ramadan, and is a time for reflection, celebration and spending time with the whole family.

Ms Mukhtar said: “Eid is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for my family; usually all of the family meet up at my granddad’s house and celebrate together, but this weekend I will be going home and spending time in the garden with my close family – social distancing of course.

“As different Ramadan has been for me this year, it has really made me appreciate what I have and has given me time to reflect and ground myself and my beliefs.”

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