The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association (AMWA) of Airdrie has adopted a stretch of highway near Crossfield, as a way to practice their faith and show appreciation for the land they call home.
Sairah Khan, a volunteer with the group, said the decision to participate in the ‘Adopt-a-Highway’ initiative was based on some of the core principles of the Islamic faith. She explained these values include cleanliness both spiritually and physically, and loyalty to one’s country.
“So, we were able to adopt the highway, which I felt gave us both loyalty to our country and cleanliness, following our faith” she said. “This was a great initiative to take on and it took both of these teachings into one.”
According to Khan, the portion of road the group is responsible for is a six-kilometre section on Highway 2; 18, north of Highway 72.
‘Adopt-a-Highway’ is an initiative offered by the provincial government through which individuals, groups, and companies can ‘adopt’ a three-to-five-kilometre strip of highway by volunteering to pick up trash along that section at least once every year.
According to the government’s website, Alberta Transportation provides and installs a “Caring for Alberta’s Highways” sign with the group’s name next to the corresponding section of highway, as a way to show appreciation for the volunteer work.
The group’s first cleaning session was held on Oct. 9, after the Rocky View Weekly’s press time. Prior to the clean-up, Khan said she expected around 20 women and 20 girls from the AMWA of Airdrie to aid in the effort. She added the plan to bring young girls along with the group would aid in teaching them valuable skills for the future.
“It teaches them team-building, as well as it teaches them aspects of the religion, the teachings as well, showing them practicality, that we are obviously following it in a practical way, and obviously gives them a sense of responsibility,” she said.
“Of course, [we want] to let others know of the initiative as well, to let their friends know that this is what true Islam means. There’s a lot of Islamophobia going on out there, but Islam means peace and that is what we are trying to teach others as well, through our actions.”
The Adopt-a-Highway initiative isn’t the first time the Airdrie-based group has made an active effort in the community this year. In May, the organization raised $1,000 during Ramadan which was donated to the Airdrie Food Bank.
According to Khan, the group has also volunteered at the Airdrie Festival of Lights in the past, and she herself is active with the Bethany Seniors Group.
“Our volunteering is just to show people what Islam truly is and just to show kindness and obviously, help in any way we can,” she said.