A 102-year-old man who raised thousands of pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic has held a moment’s silence at his home alongside refugees from Ukraine and other countries.
Dabirul Islam Choudhury was awarded an OBE for raising £420,000 after Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired him to walk laps of his garden in Bow, east London while fasting for Ramadan.
On Saturday, he welcomed people from all around the world to his home to support Ukrainian refugees and raise money for the charitable initiative Ramadan Family Commitment.
Members of the Ukrainian community who have been recently displaced due to the Russian invasion observed 102 seconds of silence led by Mr Choudhury, who is fasting again, in the garden of his communal residence.
And people from more than 300 cities across the world and countries including Bangladesh, Canada, India, Pakistan and Turkey tuned in to the live stream to take part in the event.
One man, Akke Rahman, who is believed to be the first British Bangladeshi Muslim to climb Mount Everest while fasting, also joined the event’s live stream from the base camp in Nepal.
Mr Choudhury and members of his community then spoke to refugees about the war in Ukraine in the garden.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Choudhury said he was moved to launch the moment of silence initiative for people who are in need and those who have died in the war.
“I have full sympathy and full support for them,” he said.
“I pray for them. They should stop. They should understand each other. Fighting will never solve the problem.”
In an interview with PA news agency, he added: “There are a lot of people there who are without food. There are a lot of people there who are hungry. There are a lot of people there who are dying. I like to support them.”
“If you help anybody, you will get the benefit of it. I wish to see that the people who are quarrelling should stop their quarrelling,” he added.
On the 102-second silence, he said: “One minute is nothing, we are supporting them with the sign of one minute.
“I will tell mankind to help others and God will help others.”
Mr Choudhury became well known during the pandemic when he raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for COVID-19 victims and the NHS by walking every day during the month of Ramadan while fasting.
“I thought the crisis is over and that the pandemic is over. I never thought I would see this day, where the people of Ukraine are crying and in desperate need of support,” he previously said.
“Refugees, mothers and children are suffering. I can’t just sit and wait for the war to end; we must do something now”.
Ellie, 16, who left behind her parents in Ukraine to stay with a relative in the UK, said: “My parents are in the war zone, I don’t know when I’m going to see them again. But the love and support I’m receiving from Dabirul and others give me hope. Young Ukrainians are grateful for this initiative”.
Yuliia Nikolaichuk, a 30-year-old doctor from the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv who fled the country last month, joined the event and said she wanted to do something to help people back at home.
“It was 15 March and we made the decision to leave Ukraine, there was no food,” she said.
Ms Nikolaichuk and her five-year-old son Nikita made it to London after two weeks in Poland and are now staying with a family under the government’s refugee scheme.
On how the war has uprooted her life, she said: “We had other plans for our lives. I do not have any plans now. I do not know how we will live the next few days and the next few years.”