Printed Edition ‖ No.: 226
Enab Baladi – Eastern Ghouta
One of the person looked after by the needy-relief charity in Douma, Abu Diab, expresses his admiration of what the recent kitchen of the charity has been offering, established at the beginning of the month of Ramadan. The staff cooks for the residents of Ghouta using steam for the first time, after they used to depend on traditional tools and pots on firewood in cooking.
The 50-years-old man says to Enab Baladi that what is being offered by the charity is better than the cooking of other institutions or Masjids’, which he “could not eat”, however, he asked for diversifying the charity’s food that is limited to Kabsa and rice with chickpeas, as he described.
Abdul Hadi AlAfen, another person taken care of by the charity, agrees with Abu Diab, explaining to Enab Baladi that “the food is excellent and better than last year”, as he gets one meal every two days and he adds that it varies between “rice and meat”.
Enab Baladi spoke to Abdul Allah As-Shami, a member of the Board of Directors in the charity, who is responsible for “Al-Khayrat” kitchen, the kitchen is an investment, whose “humble” funds go to the charity, he says, stressing that the kitchen is a first of its kind in Eastern Ghouta.
“The kitchen was equipped within special circumstances and in light of the absence of fuel for cooking”, according to As-Shami, who explains that “it works according to excellent industrial standards that provide large numbers of meals with less costs.”
Saving time and serving other institutions
The charity adopted the cooking using steam method in order to “save time and increase quantities”, this way shifting from cooking on firewood that lasted for years. As-Shami pointed out that “we were trying so hard to control the cleanness issue, not to mention that we previously suffered from cooking for a long time, until we were able to reach a clean and sterile product with a higher quality.”
As-Shami explains that despite the fact that kitchens need diesel fuel, yet “the technique of cooking on steam saves energy and provides significant savings compared to gas or other traditional methods”, adding that cooking one meal takes 15 minutes and consumes small amount of steam.
The kitchen is not limited to the use by the charity, as As-Shami says, as a number of other institutions who wish to use it, can cook in it, since “it is the first kitchen of such specifications and production capacity, and to have it shared for the benefit of all.”
The project will continue to operate throughout the year and not just during the month of Ramadan “in order to serve relief institutions, which seek cooking within a productive efficiency.”
Specialists to run the kitchen
The charity benefited from the start of the month of Ramadan to begin its project. Around 30 people work within the kitchen, which has a production capacity of 1 to 3 tons maximum on a daily basis. The kitchen provides the needs of 2000 to 6000 people, within one shift that works for 6 to 8 hours, the Kitchen’s responsible says.
The charity’s staff seeked the help of specialists and experts in the field who are still present in Ghouta. As-Shami considers Ghouta to be famous for workers in the field of conserves factories, who have experience in running production lines.
Responsibles for the project are satisfied with what it accomplishes, yet the staff has faced some difficulties, notably the lack of industrial equipment, the thing that forced them to manufacture locally using the available expertise, according to As-Shami, who says “we maintained the efficiency and speed of the product, despite the difficulties”, pointing out that the storage is linked to the availability of affordable cooking raw materials in the market.
The kitchen distributes 2 thousand meals a day, half of them through the charity and the other half through the institutions that use the kitchen, according to Ameen Saour, charity’s director in Douma, who spoke to Enab Baladi about the charity’s other relief projects, referring to an upcoming project of distributing bread in Ghouta.
According to Saour, the charity constantly distributes food baskets, the most recent was a few days earlier. They have distributed 1000 baskets of 35.5 kilo each, which targeted the poor, widows and others. The charity has other projects, such as “Aseel” workshop for sewing, which produces clothes and distribute them, “Orphan’s friends” office (currently includes 1300 Kafalah (sponsorship) in eastern Ghouta) and “Al-Bayan” kindergarten for the deaf and mute, which currently includes 27 children.
The needy-relief charity in Douma presents itself as a charitable, social-relief, developmental and independent institution that sponsored, since its beginning in 1960, the orphans of Ghouta through the office “Orphan’s friends”.
Their slogan is “your hand in our hand…to relieve the suffering of our people”. The charity tries through its programs to help the needy and shift them from the needy state to that of sufficiency. The charity is run by a number of volunteers who are university graduates in different fields.
The siege created new ways for living that enable people to avoid the siege’s repercussions, and although methods were different and various, yet they have always stressed that “from the womb of suffering, solutions are born”.