DUBAI: Pakistanis living in the UAE are helping the poor this year by personally delivering iftar meals and other essential food items during the holy month of Ramadan.
With a near global economic downturn impacting the poor due to COVID-19, the second Ramadan since the pandemic broke out in early 2020 brings some respite with increased charity.
Ajman-based Ayesha Sohail, 38, has taken her charity initiative online, and uses a mostly all-women Facebook group she created eight years ago called ‘UAE Fusion Socialites’ to get help from its 19,000 members.
Previously, she used the same platform to deliver 2,300 ration boxes from February to September during the lockdowns last year-- each box worth Dh385.
“This year I have been getting messages for help from Sudanese, Filipinos and Indians as well,” Ayesha told Arab News on Thursday.
Ayesha circulates the calls for help among her group members, and asks them to contribute. Sometimes, she gets sponsorships from businesses.
“This year we have already given away 300 boxes to needy families and individuals in Ajman, Dubai and Sharjah,” she said, adding that the initiative will continue until the end of the month.
Each box contains 10 kilos of rice, flour, lentils, Rooh Afza and other food items that are delivered to the doorsteps of needy families by Ayesha, her husband and son, 12.
“Officials from Facebook also got in touch with me recently and appreciated how I was using the platform to help the community,” Ayesha said.
Offline too, Pakistanis living in the UAE are making efforts to be personally involved in charity work.
Talha Ahmed Khan, a Dubai-based businessman, started an initiative called ‘Rizq’ to support those affected by lockdowns last year, and said that this year too, many people were surviving on the bare minimum.
Khan reached out to family and friends and asked them to support the 38 needy families and people he had identified by giving them warm meals and iftar every day for 30 days, from ‘Delhi Nihari’-- a restaurant he owns in Dubai.
Those offering support have been asked to choose between food combos costing between Dh10 to 15 or to independently choose meals they’d like to donate instead.
“A rider and I pick up the food packets at 4 p.m. and start out on deliveries which continue right until iftar time… sometimes I have to break my fast on the way back but it is all worth it,” he said.
During his efforts, Khan also came across a number of blue-collar workers whose salaries had been halved and who could save some money if they didn’t have to spend on food.
Food packets for 15 of the 38 workers have already been sponsored for a month while 23 others still need support.
Saeeda Riaz, a Dubai-based Pakistani businesswoman has also been delivering rations to 17 needy families who have reached out to her through an online platform called ‘Helping Hands’ launched two years ago.
Saeeda, who runs a property management firm, told Arab News that five of the 17 families had already been provided with food items to last them through the month.
“They need all the help that can be given to them,” she said.
Saeeda does the shopping and packing of food items herself, alongside her two children. Each pack contains 25 kilos worth of groceries.
“Since I deliver all these items myself, we can only do it in a limited way, she said.
“But soon, the rest will be done too.”