x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Spirit of Ramadan: Emiratis to prepare 1.7 million meals for the needy

Khalifa Foundation funds each Emirati family with enough money to prepare 100 Iftar meals a day to be distributed to labour camps and places with people in need.

ABU DHABI // For most families, iftar will be a time to break the daily fast of Ramadan with loved ones.

But for nearly 600 Emiratis it will mean work has just begun in a job that will also build them a future.

Low-income families have been training to provide meals for people in need, as part of the Khalifa Foundation's 4th Iftar Initiative.

Each family received Dh63,000 to buy equipment and ingredients to cook 100 meals each day during the holy month.

Meals will be distributed at 110 sites, focusing on labour camps and other places of need.

"We put the food among everybody regardless of their nationality, religion, colour," said Mohammed Al Khouri, the foundation's director general. "These services are open for everybody."

The initiative will provide nearly 1.76 million meals, but the charity is also a business investment. The foundation trains low-income Emirati families to run their own small businesses.

"They learn how to prepare a bill, how to pay, how to receive money - all kinds of business procedures," Mr Al Khouri said.

"Around 20 per cent of the women from the past three years now have their own business at home. Even now when we have receptions, we do not order from the hotel, we order from these ladies."

He said one of the programme's past participants could not cater for the foundation this year because she had so many clients.

Families are enthusiastic about their new small businesses, and many provide more than the required number of meals for Ramadan.

Afra Al Hamli, from Al Gharbia, is in her third year with the programme. She can prepare several hundred meals a day, which are delivered to labour camps in Mussaffah.

Ms Al Hamli caters for events throughout the year. "This is even healthy exercise for me because I am cooking, not just eating and sleeping during Ramadan," she said.

As with many of the programme's participants, her business is a family enterprise. Her two daughters, aged 16 and 12, help her to pack the meals for delivery.

The project has many local sponsors and partners who help with transport and supply. Liwa Factory provides dates at a reduced price to contribute to the spirit of Ramadan, and municipalities offer staples such as rice and chicken.

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