Food donations and ration bags are a common sight in Ramazan. The capital, however, has some organisations who attempt to extend this to the entire year.
Zoone Hassan, an Islamabad resident, started a welfare organisation called Thali in 2009 that works all year round to donate food to the deserving.
“We take left-over food from restaurants and weddings and try and distribute as much as we can in the twin cities,” Hassan said while speaking to The Express Tribune.
“A lot of people donate but most donations are in Ramazan,” Hassan added.
Once the food comes in, Hassan and her team of volunteers individually packs the food and distributes it outside hospitals, to labourers that sit on kerbside and other locations. However, during Ramazan, they donate freshly-prepared food – rice, grams, curry and bread along with milk and juice – to about 200 people.
“This year, we’ve started serving sehri as well and are now distributing ration bags that are enough for a family of four,” Hassan said. One Thali ration bag costs Rs1,000, serves a family of 4 to 5 people for 30 days, and contains flour, four types of grams, ghee and sugar. The ration bags are distributed to families identified by volunteers.
“So much food goes to waste in restaurants that can be donated,” Hassan said.
“Up till now, only a few restaurants such as Khiva, China Town, Dragon City, and Subway have been helping us. It would be great if other restaurants took the initiative as well,” she added.
Thali is not the only organisation offering food to the deserving. Animal Welfare Front, an organisation that seeks to help homeless animals, has also taken up the initiative of providing free Iftars during Ramazan. According to their Facebook page, their food package includes 10 kilogrammes of flour, five liters cooking oil, 5kg of grams, rice, sugar and gram flour, 2kg dates, 0.5kg tea, and 1 large bottle of Rooh Afza. The package costs Rs4,000 per family.
Besides organisations, there are also individuals trying to do their bit. Kulsoom Parvaiz, a teacher at a private school in Islamabad, has been doing charity work on her own for years now.
“My friends and I have formed a group called the Gathering of Retired Officers Wives and we do community work on a regular basis,” Parvaiz said.
“We distribute Iftar in Islamabad and also donate to a group of lady lawyers who work for women jailed on false charges,” she said.
“Our work mainly depends on the donations from people” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.