Feeding the hungry is a universal teaching, given by almost all religious traditions of the world. In current economic climate, when unemployment across the world is unusually high, there are more and more fellow humans who go hungry everyday. There are countless good-hearted folks around the world who are taking up this noble task and doing their best to feed the hungry, in their own unique way.
One of the major concern which often arise while helping the needy is that if the help which is being offered will in anyway impact their self esteem or make them too dependent on the handouts. I don’t find it a coincidence that I learned about two approaches towards feeding the hungry in two completely different parts of the world on the same day, both of the approaches address this concern in their own unique ways:
Rs. 3 Meals in Karachi Pakistan
From this BBC Urdu news story (its in Urdu) I learned about a Pakistani woman Parveen Saeed, who belongs to a middle class family in Karachi, Pakistan. She was moved by the suffering of the increasing numbers of poor and needy in her city and started helping them by cooking extra meals for them at home and starting giving it away for a mere sum of Rs. 3/meal. (which roughly is 3.5 cents at current exchange rate). She soon realized that she could not help many people at her current pace, so she moved to a poor neighborhood and started a “Khana Ghar” (more like a soup kitchen) where anybody can come and have a fresh, healthy and filling meal for Rs 3. Her cost for each such meal is Rs. 20, but there are many in the community who were moved by her service and have started contributing in kind as well as financially and now she runs more than three such soup kitchens.
“Pay What You Can” Restaurant by singer Jon Bon Jovi in New Jersey
From this USA Today news story I learned that singer Jon Bon Jovi has opened “Pay What You Can” restaurants on more than one locations in New Jersey, where people can come and eat gourmet quality meals, but they pay whatever they can, or alternately pay through either working in that restaurant (if there is opportunity for that) or through some other form of community volunteer service.
I’m sure there are plenty of other folks out there who are using their great ideas and intentions to feed the hungry and help those who are in need, but these two ideas just stand out for me. As they are preserving the self-esteem of the people being helped, by either charging a nominal amount or expecting them to volunteer in return for the meal.
I think such ideas applied at a broader scale, can bring a lot of good to our communities across the globe. It may not have to be through food services alone, it can be applied to other form of help, with vocational education, training and so forth so that those who are unable to support themselves can eventually become self sufficient and contributing members of the society.