Sanaa charity kitchens feed the poor, displaced

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Volunteers at a charity kitchen in Sanaa prepare iftar meals for poor and displaced families during the holy month of Ramadan. [Mohammed Abdullah/Al-Mashareq] 

Charity kitchens have been set up on many Sanaa streets to provide the iftar meal to those in need during the holy month of Ramadan, thanks to the efforts of local youth, private donors and the Yemen Food Bank.

The free meals and the spirit of goodwill with which they are served help to alleviate the atmosphere of war that has enveloped Yemen for years, local residents told Al-Mashareq.

The family of Ahmed Abdo al-Mahwiti is one of dozens who receive daily meals from the charity kitchen in their Sanaa neighbourhood.

"I get a daily meal for my family of seven, but it is not enough," said al-Mahwiti, who fled with his family from al-Hodeidah a year ago when the fighting there intensified. "Most days the meal is without fish or chicken."


Families receive prepared iftar meals during Ramadan from a charity kitchen set up on a Sanaa street. [Mohammed Abdullah/Al-Mashareq] 

"Ramadan offers a better chance of getting cooked meals compared to other months," said Aisha al-Rimi, who was displaced during the war and now lives with her five children in the Hezyaz area on Sanaa's southern outskirts.

Hot food has been more expensive to prepare as a result of the domestic gas crisis, she told Al-Mashareq, adding that her family has benefited from various charitable initiatives.

UN reports indicate that about 80% of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance, and two thirds have reached the pre-famine stage.

Charity kitchens, which are often run by neighbourhood youth, are widespread throughout Sanaa province, with more than 100 set up in all districts.

Serving and distributing meals

The Yemen Food Bank has launched a campaign to support the 105 charity kitchens set up in the Sanaa administrative district and province, serving and distributing meals on a daily basis, campaign officials said.

These kitchens aim to assist 44,020 families with services ranging from the provision of cooking equipment to prepared meals, and are supervised by youth initiatives such as "We Can".

Ghassan Obeid of the "We Can" initiative told Al-Mashareq he worked with a number of youth before the start of Ramadan to set up and equip the charity kitchen, and it was ready to operate when Ramadan began.

"Some initiative members donated equipment to the kitchen and took a census of needy families, compiling a new list by adding and deleting names from last year’s list of the charity kitchen’s targeted beneficiaries," the 22-year-old said.

This year marks the third year since the kitchen's establishment, he noted.

Obeid said his charity joined forces with the "Baladi Ahla" and "Basmat Amal" initiatives, and together they set up four charity kitchens.

One of these kitchens is in the central al-Dairi district, and aims to serve 115 families, another serves 200 families in al-Safiya district, while a third serves 200 families in the Hezyaz area, he said.

Feeding the poor and displaced

Hussein Dhiab, the official in charge of the al-Sabeen kitchen, told Al-Mashareq his team aims to serve 600 poor and displaced families in the district.

"The charity kitchen distributes food to the targeted needy," he said.

Some come to the kitchen to receive their meal every day, he said, while other families receive daily visits in their homes from meal distributors.

Dhiab said the charity kitchen "relies on the efforts of young volunteers from the district and the support of philanthropists and the Food Bank".

"The month of Ramadan is a month of benevolence, during which charitable kitchens are set up everywhere to provide cooked meals to the poor and needy," human rights activist Hana al-Faqih told Al-Mashareq.

Though these kitchens have done a lot to alleviate hunger, she said, "the support and response from merchants and the Food Bank is insufficient".

Greater support is needed from the Food Bank, local businesses and individual donors in order to provide a sufficient quantity and variety of meals to the targeted families, she said.

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The Food Bank has distributed food baskets. However, some families have cards [gibberish]. Please take this into consideration.


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