Dean Mousad didn’t think twice about what he did on the 15th February. For him, it wasn’t even a big deal.
Dean and his team drove 365km to cook a BBQ for around three hundred strangers, also raising and donating funds to bushfire-affected locals. Dean doesn’t want special attention for what he does – he simply gets it done. That’s what Brothers in Need are all about.
During our recent production of the Brothers in Need and Wauchope documentary series, we sat down with the co-founder of Brothers in Need to find out his story, the significance of Ramadan and how he’s helped the community of Wauchope.
Dean, we’ll start with the classic question – where did you grow up?
I jumped around many different places when I was younger. From Kogarah to Cherrybrook and Parramatta. I then resided in Baulkham for about sixteen years of my life. Now I live in Greenacre.
How did your childhood lead to where you are now?
Until the age of sixteen, I lived a very sheltered life. My parents would drive me everywhere, I wouldn’t even catch public transport. Then in Year 11, I went to a public school which led to me being introduced to a wider range of people.
Coming into 18 and then onto the age of 24, I really started getting engaged with the nightclub scene, the boat cruises, concerts, and the clubs. With all that, one vice lead to another, from drinking to gambling to drugs.
I had a near-death experience at the age of 24. That was my ‘Ah-ha’ moment. I was at a crossroads in my life and really needed to decide if this was what I wanted to do for the next eight years of my life.
Dean’s change was creating Brothers in Need, a non-for-profit group that wants to make a difference.
How did Brothers in Need all begin?
We started around 2015. Before that, there was the Lindt cafe siege in Martin Place, plus what was happening in the Middle East in different pockets of those countries.
We were kind of just sitting down with a group of friends and started thinking, “how can we change the stereotypes about Muslims?” This isn’t the Islam that we knew growing up. This isn’t what we were taught in schools or at home.
When I was younger, my parents put me in different Islamic schools that had tutors which would come out and teach both secular knowledge and religious knowledge. I think that set the foundation for me growing up.
Even though I went into a different realm after that in my twenties, I think the foundations were set from a young age. So when the time was right, I came back to those roots.
What does Brothers in Need mean to you and the work you’re doing?
There’s a lot of accolades for the work that we do. But I think part of being a Muslim, even part of being a human, is to actually just do this kind of work. It should be an everyday thing.
It’s not about ‘I’m a Muslim and I’m doing some great work.’ It’s… I think…as humans, whatever nationality, race, culture or faith you come from is all embedded in the work that we do. So this is just something that we do as Muslims, as Australians, as humans.
What does Ramadan mean to you?
Personally, Ramadan is a time I can isolate myself and give myself the time that I need.
Usually the other eleven months in the year, I’m out with the community. For me, the month of Ramadan is to spend that time with myself and work on my personal development, work on my connection with God.
While we fast in the month of Ramadan, you always have that consciousness, you know, the high consciousness. You know what we are doing is for God.
Is the structure and discipline you learn of Ramadan beneficial to how you do your personal work?
Most definitely. For us, it’s like a month of training. We’re training our bodies, our minds, our discipline, and consciousness to really be prepared for the months to come.
It’s like you’re a boxer or a soccer player – you do more focused training right before that big match.
As a younger man, do you find Ramadan is a different experience now where you are in life as opposed to when you’re younger, like 16 or 18 years old?
I think with every age comes struggles.
For those that are a bit younger that are fasting, they see their friends at school eating and drinking so they’ll have their struggle. Conversely, as you get older, you may find it harder as your body gets old.
What would you say to your sixteen year old self?
Have a good environment around you. Whether that’s at home, school or work, always surround yourself with people that uplift you. Good humans will always help you out when you’re going through different struggles within yourself or with others.
Keep up to date with Brothers in Need here.