The HOPE Campaign of the National Youth Assembly (NYA) kicked off in 30 districts across the country to provide free iftar to over 2,00,000 needy people and food ration packages to 15,000 deserving families during the month of Ramazan.
Iftar is served mostly in hospitals, bus terminals and other places where a large number of people are present away from home.
In the capital, the HOPE Campaign kicked off at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) where over 700 persons including patients’ attendants, low-paid staff, daily wagers and street vendors were served a free ‘Iftar-cum-dinner’ on the first day of fasting on Thursday.
The menu included dates, juices, seasonal fruits, rice, pakoras and samosas.
Talking to The Express Tribune, NYA President Hanan Ali Abbasi said that the HOPE Campaign was started three years back by members of the NYA keeping in view the spiraling inflation owing to which many people could not afford ‘quality food’ for iftar.
He said that there are 700 HOPE ambassadors and 25,000 youth councillors across the country, who on their own raise funds for the campaign.
“The campaign is not at all funded by any national or international organisation, it is solely run by our young members who out of a sense of commitment and sympathy for our needy brothers and sisters by raising money from their families and friends to arrange iftar for them,” he said.
Every year, the best HOPE ambassador award is given to a person whose performance remains outstanding during the campaign.
Separate arrangements for iftar are made for men and women and they are served by the youth assembly members who later clean up the area.
Shah Hussain was having his first iftar, served by HOPE campaigners, at Pims. A daily wager, he came to Islamabad three years ago from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“I’m having dates for iftar after three years, the last time I had them was with my family in Kashmir. After that I could not afford them and I had been having my iftar with just a glass of water and fruits discarded by fruit vendors in the vegetable market in Sector I-11,” he said. “Someone told me about the free iftar at Pims so I travelled all the way from Sector I-11 to come here.”
Shahida Parveen, an attendant of a patient admitted to Pims, said that being a woman and new to this city it was difficult for her to go out of the hospital to get food.
“This iftar campaign is a blessing for all the women like me staying at the hospital with patients who cannot afford to go out or get quality food for iftar,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.