They all know that their ‘guests’ will come to have iftar in time. Therefore, they begin to make preparations much earlier.
They get the Ramadan meal ready gleefully and complete most of their work by 4:00 pm.They are the volunteers of ‘Mehmankhana’, a social organisation that serves iftar for underprivileged people every day in Block D in the capital’s Lalmatia.
Some of these volunteers are students while some are job holders. Along with local residents, they arrange iftar for around 1,000 people every day.
Talking to the Daily Sun on Monday, Tasfiya Meem, a fifth grader who is a volunteer of Mehmankhana, said, “I work here every day as I love to do this. This is a great opportunity to serve marginalised people.” Syed Saiful Alam Shovan, an NGO worker and one of the organisers of Mehmankhana, said, “Our volunteers buy all necessary goods in the morning and cook iftar items at noon. We maintain hygiene and health guidelines to ensure safety for our guests.”
Volunteers start distributing plates at 5:30 pm and continue it until the Maghrib prayer.
Mehmankhana provides iftar for street children, day labourers, rickshaw pullers, security guards, beggars and also people of other professions.
Usually they serve dates, puffed rice, chickpeas, chira, jilapi, lemonade and if possible seasonal fruits. They also make ‘khichuri’ on Friday.“It is very difficult for me to spend Tk 40 to Tk 50 every day for iftar. Therefore, I eat iftar here every day. I thank the organisers for this noble initiative,” said Abu Taher, a security guard of an ATM booth who was standing in the queue for iftar. Murshid Uddin, a rickshaw-puller who was waiting for iftar, said, “I came to Town Hall with passengers. When I entered Lalmatia, I found this arrangement. This is really good for low-income people like us.”
It may be mentioned that Mehmankhana has been distributing food items among poverty-stricken people since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.