Syrians set up Damascus charity kitchens to feed needy during Ramadan

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Each day during Ramadan, a group of Syrian volunteers have been gathering in front of the capital's ancient Ummayyad Mosque to prepare iftar meals for families in need.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims break their daily fast with the iftar evening meal. But, due to the ongoing conflict tearing their country apart, many Syrians have been unable to afford basic food items let alone cook a large family meal for the iftar dinner.

Campaigners at 'Down with Hunger' started their charity kitchen on the fourth day of Ramadan and are now preparing over 2,000 meals each day.

“We started with 550 meals and with 20 workers. Today we actually made 2,000 meals and we have more than 2,000 to 2,500 volunteers. This number could increase every day. People love us and we love them. I hope we could handle this responsibility in a good way,” said Issam Habbal, the campaign's organizer.

He added that the campaign does not accept money donations and only asks donors for raw food and ingredients to help make the meals.

Gloves and hats are distributed to all the chefs and volunteer and hygiene is a top priority, said volunteer chef Majd.

“Every young man, young lady, chef and participant should wear gloves and hats. This decision was made by the organizer so that anybody who was not wearing gloves cannot continue working with us. Hygiene is the most important thing. As you see the meals are wrapped in bags and all men and women are wearing gloves. The food is wrapped carefully in order to be delivered in a healthy way to people,” Majd said.

The project is open for anyone to help with preparing, cooking and wrapping meals for delivery.

Fourteen-year-old Mohamad Wael, who was helping prepare the meals, said that he was happy to take part and help those in need.

“I am happy because I want to work, help poor people and distribute food for those who are in need,”he said.

After the meals are prepared, which usually consist of a main meal, salad and a fruit or dessert plate, they are delivered by car to shelters and mosques around the city.
Due to inflated prices and a shortage of food, many Syrians have been unable to access even basic ingredients.

After more than two years of civil war that has killed more than 90,000 people, food shortages have escalated due to massive population displacement, disruption of agricultural production, unemployment, economic sanctions and high food and fuel prices.

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