Going by the true spirit of the holy fasting month, around 15 volunteers of an organization are engaged every day to prepare 1800 food packets for Iftari and Sehri for attendants at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) here.
Working in rotation, these young volunteers of ‘We The Helping Hands Foundation’ (WTHHF), make food packets for Iftari and food packets both for dinner and Suhour (Sehri or pre-dawn meal) for distribution among the attendants and other needy at the 700-bedded tertiary hospital on the outskirts of Srinagar.
This NGO has been on this mission for about five years. “This is a free service for which we have engaged two Wazas (Kashmiri chefs/cooks)”, said Umar Wani, Chairman of the Helping Hands Foundation.
“We use social media (to seek support and funds from people) and there is a lot of response, which helps us in continuing to serve the people during the month of Ramazan”, Umar Wani told Awaz-the Voice.
Volunteers packing food for Muslims observing fasting
“Every day we prepare 1800 food packets, out of which 1200 are distributed for dinner and 600 others for Sehri inside the hospital, in addition to the Iftari”, said Wani. For Iftaar, they serve water bottles, dates, bananas, and juice.
The meal being serves often has mutton, chicken, cheese, and vegetables on selected days of the week, Wani said.
The SKIMS caters to patients coming from all across the valley and also some from the Jammu region.
The WTHHF, founded four years ago, has over 500 volunteers all over the valley during the month of Ramazan. A group of over 15 youth volunteers works every three days for packing and serving the food during the month of Ramazan.
The NGO also provides food, essentials, and gifts to many poor and the needy on the occasion of the Eid festival. The Eid hamper also includes grocery items, bakery, chicken, etc.
Umar Wani, the young founder of WTHH runs his family business in Kashmir arts. He said he was moved by his visit to the SKIMS during the 2017 Ramazan where he had gone to see a patient.
One of the vans distributing food outside SKIIMS
“One attendant was looking for a sip of water while another for a date to break the day’s fast”, Wani recalls. “Many attendants of patients from far-off places with limited resources needed Iftari and Sehri.”
He decided to do something and the idea of WTHHF took off in 2018. Initially, the NGO also served the attendants at the SMHS as it is located in the heart of Srinagar downtown. However as many other groups were active there, the WTHHF moved to the SKIIMS.
The NGO has its main body comprising six members and over 500 volunteers in all 10 districts of the valley. The NGO also provides books and school uniforms to poor children and conducts mass Weddings.
WTHHF has so far organized marriages of 503 couples, and rendered ambulance and other services including cooked food to people during the Covid pandemic.