Nablus – While Palestinian women are busy preparing their Ramadan food in their homes, the needy "Umm Ali" waits for food prepared by Mabarrat Al-Khair Al-Nabulsi kitchen, not because she is unable to prepare her own food in her home, but rather because of a financial inability that exhausted her and her family of 9 and exacerbated her suffering. Like many Palestinian families, they are now suffering from extreme poverty and the high cost of living has made matters worse.
In Mabaret Al-Khair kitchen in the Old City of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, dozens of men and women like "Umm Ali" line up to take their share of the meals prepared by the kitchen, which it used to serve throughout the year, but it doubles in quantity and quality during the month of Ramadan.
Umm Ali, who lives in a camp in Nablus, used to come to the kitchen and take meals for a long time, bearing the costs of transporting them via public transportation, but there is no escape for her in light of her dire need for that, especially since her husband, exhausted by illness, is sitting without work and her children without a breadwinner. .
Umm Ali tells Al-Jazeera Net that she takes meals with the number of her family members 3 times a week, which makes her need to prepare food at home, and she adds, "One dish costs me more than $ 30, and it is not available, of course, and the rest of the days of the week we are satisfied with the food available at home." .
The meals that Umm Ali gets from "Mabrat Al-Khair" are satisfying, healthy and good-tasting, and she says that she used to benefit from them outside of Ramadan.
Permanence of giving
Like Umm Ali, the condition of citizen Muhammad Naji was not better, as he also stood waiting for his share of the meals that would suffice the seven members of his family.
Naji told Al-Jazeera Net, as he was about to leave for his home in a village south of Nablus, that his salary, estimated at $500, is hardly sufficient for his basic obligations, especially since a large part of it is spent on transportation.
Naji, who works in cleaning, adds, "I am not ashamed of taking meals, as they are intended for people like us, and the most important thing is the continuity of giving and not being limited to a specific time and mechanism, or even a specific amount."
And on the basis of “if fed, satisfied” and doing good in all its forms, the Mabarrat Al-Khair Kitchen system is based, and perhaps this is what distinguishes it from other takiyas or charitable institutions, in addition to continuing its work throughout the year, and even its name does not embarrass the beneficiaries or diminish their status.
Since 2015, the “Mabarat Al-Khair” affiliated with the Social Center Society was launched on the initiative of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in Kuwait, which contributed to the construction and equipment, to continue its work with the support of local philanthropists and people of good, and expanded its activity from the old town and its surroundings to the villages and camps of Nablus, “and every liquid He means us to meet him," say those in charge of it.
From 270 daily meals throughout the year, the number of meals exceeded 500 per day last year, and it doubles more in Ramadan.
mechanisms and controls
Adnan Odeh, director of the Social Center Association and supervisor of the kitchen, says that its distinction lies in providing healthy and fresh food that suits the needs of poor families based on studies prepared in advance about their living conditions in all its details.
He adds in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net that the provision of assistance depends on the investigation of people in need based on knowledge of their conditions or on the basis of documents provided by the Ministry of Social Development and charitable institutions, in order to benefit the largest possible number.
As for internally, the kitchen works with a documentation mechanism based on receiving donations in all their material and in-kind forms, whatever their value, then securing them in official records, and preparing them in the required manner to be distributed, and a staff of workers, volunteers, cooks, and others are based on that.
Jamila Haddad, 65, was one of those volunteers whose number increases during Ramadan. She has been working in the kitchen for more than two years, 8 hours a day, and all her motive is "the love of doing good." She has been volunteering her whole life, according to what she told Al Jazeera Net.
And not by the increase of volunteers and workers, the kitchen is distinguished during the month of Ramadan from other days of the year, but rather by the number of its meals, which rises from 520 to about 1,500 meals per day, in addition to suhoor food and the many and varied in-kind materials, which makes the idea of the kitchen farther and broader than the limits of hospices and their work.
Helping patients too
Muawiya al-Masry, head of the Social Center Association, says that they work all year long without stopping, even on weekends. In addition to meals, Mabaret Al-Khair provides – according to Al-Masry – a voucher of about $80 to poor families to shop for what they need from the shops.
He says that there are about a thousand families benefiting from this aid during Ramadan, and another 150 families receive it throughout the year. Al-Masry added that the association also provides medical aid and medicines, helps in carrying out snail implants and hearing aids, and contributes to solving social problems.
He asserts that the association "does what official institutions, such as social development, cannot do."
And while the statistics of the Palestinian Central Agency indicate that nearly a third of the population (29.2%) in Palestine suffer from poverty, information from specialized observers obtained by Al-Jazeera Net confirms that 55% of the population of the Old City of Nablus, estimated at 5 thousand people, is below the poverty line.
Adnan Odeh says that whoever receives the minimum salary set by the authority at about $500 is considered poor, and even believes that many of those who earn more than this amount may also be counted among the poor.