After 18 years of helping, Maryam plans to call it a day
After 18 years of running her own social assistance venue, Maryam Muhammad is moving on.
She started Help Incorporated in 1994, soliciting food donations and driving them to the needy in her white van.
However the recession, combined with the proliferation of charities on the Island, is making this her last year.
“I’m going to miss this,” Ms Muhammad said, recalling the pleasure of taking donated food and drinks to people’s homes.
She sought charitable status for Help Incorporated several times over the years, but since Ms Muhammad did not solicit any sort of money, she was told it wasn’t necessary.
“I refuse to put a price on the deeds done for people,” she explained.
Ironically, other food charities such as the Eliza Doolittle Society have ended up getting most of the food donations Ms Muhammad once acquired from bakeries and warehouses.
“Everybody knows me as the sister with the white van,” she laughed, remembering how the various people she helped knew her as “mom, sister and auntie”.
Along the way she picked up letters of thanks from the Centre on Angle Street, the HIV hospice STAR, Meals on Wheels, the Sandys Community Centre and the group Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Ms Muhammad used her van to drop off donations or provide transport for seniors.
Now 47, she said she’d been prompted to consider retirement after a 2007 car accident left her unable to lift donations.
“It also made it difficult for me to drive comfortably. I was slow coming back on the scene,” she said.
A devout Muslim, Ms Muhammad hopes now to qualify as a minister.
“I feel the hurt of other people, and I really want to reach out spiritually,” she said.