Monday, 21 May 2018

The Date Project

A few weeks ago I was asked to get involved with promoting The Date Project and since reading about this great charity I have been really looking forward to sharing it with you here. 
In 2015, The Date Project was established by volunteers of SKT Welfare; A charity dedicated to providing humanitarian aid in countries which include Syria, Pakistan, Palestine, Bangladesh, Somalia and in the UK. 
The idea was started to raise funds for the Al-Huda Bakery in Syria by selling dates during Ramadan. In their first year they sold over 10,000 boxes and have since gone on to sell millions more. Each box of dates sold raises funds for 50 loaves of bread for Syrian families. Bread, like in many countries, is a basic dietary staple, one which we all take for granted; in Syria, the towns have been ravaged by war for many years and many of the bakeries and factories completely destroyed. In some areas bread prices have risen by 500%.
This year the Date Project tins include Dates4Orphans, Dates4Pakistan and Dates4Palestine which will go towards refugee children, clean water and restoring eyesight.
The Date Project is just one of the ways that SKT funds the work that it does. 

"{SKT} Concentrates on providing food and water to the homeless and refugees, as well as providing healthcare, and establishing sustainable projects."

Because of my Middle Eastern heritage I feel a close connection to this particular cause. I have experienced some of the ways war has affected the people of Syria. Although I have never been to the county I am aware of some of the suffering they have gone through. The people that SKT are helping have lived through trauma that we could never understand unless we were going through it ourselves. They watch their families suffer and go without the basic essentials that so many of us wouldn't even think twice about such as food, schooling, healthcare and a home. I love that this simple idea is directly helping those in most need, with 100% of the money raised going towards serving them. 

Ramadan has already started; this is when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset for one month, using it as a time for spiritual reflection and prayer and works of charity. I've always found this a really inspiring practice, having only fasted for a day or so myself I can only imagine the dedication needed for a whole month! Dates are often given out at the end of the day as the first food after a long day of fasting so these boxes are a perfect gift for anyone doing the Ramadan Fast. 
I should also say though that as someone trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, dates are such a great way to cut sugar cravings and add fibre easily so I'd be buying a few boxes anyway!
 We eat a lot of dates but the Medjool are definitely the best. They're much larger, softer and even sweeter than the dates you can buy in shops. They're often more difficult to get hold of and more expensive, So I was really impressed with the quality and amount you get in a Date Project Tin.
I used mine to make some Kliechas which are really simple to make and so good. My mum often made these so the flavours really remind me of home. 
The flavours sit together perfectly and even if you're not fasting, I find them a good substitute for mid morning sweet cravings.

Kliecha - Date Pastries

1 Pack of Shortcrust Pasty
9 Medjool Dates
1 Tsp Ground Cardamom
1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Stone and coarsely chop the dates and add to a small pan with the Cardamom and Lemon Juice; warm on a gentle heat and still every now and then until the dates melt and become very soft. The mixture will start to look like toffee after a few minutes. 
Stir, take off the heat and leave to cool
Roll out your pasty and either use a round cutter (or a glass !) or shape small discs with your hands; place about a teaspoon of the mixture inside and seal the edges. (I know there are different ways of doing them, but these little half moons with crimped ages are the way I've been shown to do them!)
Pop in the over at about 180 until the pastry is lightly golden - around 10 minutes
Cool and dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

There is lots more information about The Date Project on their website as well as links to their blog and the brilliant work of SKT


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