Ma Shimin lives with his wife and daughter in Labrang town, Xiahe County, China. The family live in a single room, which also serves as their shop and only source of income.
“My wife and I run a shop,” Ma Shimin told us when we visited him last year. “People bring their wheat flour to my shop, we help them to make the flour into noodles and charge some processing fees. The two dough pressing machines are my only property.”
As two-thirds of the money they earn is spent on their rent, there is little left over to cover daily expenses and the tuition fees for their daughter, Ma Xiaoyan.
“Our house is so small, so my daughter has to sleep on the board every night,” he added, pointing to a place beside the dough pressing machine, which is cluttered with a flask, some eggs and a sack of flour. The family live and work in the single room, which is less than 20 square metres in size.
Like many families in Gansu province, little changes at Ramadan.
“There is no impact on my life during Ramadan. The food we eat is the same and so are my habits. I try my best to pray and read the Qur’an, and I believe that for people who always remember God, God will always remember you.”
In 2014, Ma Shimin received a Ramadan foodpack for the first time. One of 2,652 parcels distributed by Islamic Relief in China, it contained 25 kilogrammes of flour and five kilogrammes of cooking oil.
“The year before last, the members of staff at the mosque wanted to give me wheat flour. I thought that I am not old enough, I have strength to work, and I should leave the gifts for people who are in greater need, so I did not go [to get the flour]. I have the package this year; it does lessen the pressure on me to buy cooking oil and wheat flour. The flour will help us for one month.
“The food distribution is very important for us. There are a lot of people from poor families [here] who have been waiting for this Ramadan food package, because it can meet their basic urgent needs.
“Thanks kind-hearted donors, thank you very much. I will pray and make good duas for all of you.”
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