Snack box fills a gap between the meals

Expat friends put together small food parcels to cover the midnight hunger hours for labourers far from home.

Mudassar Munaff and other volunteers distribute food packets to more than 300 labourers at a labour camp in Al Humaideyah, Ajman. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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AJMAN // Every day during Ramadan, a group of friends meet up after they have finished work to prepare snack boxes for labourers.

The Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi expatriates pack up to 350 boxes a day for the residents of nearby labour camps and then head there to hand them out before iftar.

Each pack consists of food items that the workers can tuck into between iftar at sunset and the suhoor meal before dawn.

“Our Ramadan Snack Pack Campaign was created to help serve snack packs for the midnight hunger hours for the underprivileged,” said Maha Khan, 40, who started the initiative three years ago.

“The idea was to distribute healthy and long-life food items in a pack, which should cost Dh5 so that everyone can contribute to this noble cause.”

Many mosques offer iftars and suhoors to labourers, but Ms Khan believed they often went hungry between the meals.

“Each snack pack consist of one juice pack, one flavoured milk, one orange, one apple, one bar of chocolate, one packet of crisps and one packet of biscuits,” said Ms Khan, a Pakistani who teaches English at the British Council in Dubai.

“We want to give them food that can last a long time, unlike meals like biryani,” she said.

Mudassar Munaff, 33, an Indian, whose house is used to pack the boxes, said last Ramadan they distributed 6,500 packs. This year, they are aiming to give out 10,000.

“It usually takes two hours to pack 350 snack packs with the help of eight volunteers,” he said. “All of us come straight from our workplaces and spend the afternoon in my living room to make the snack packs,” said Mr Munaff, who has been involved in the campaign from the start.

He said the volunteers came from all walks of life, including drivers, accountants and even a company chief executive.

“We sit together and don’t care who is who. What we care is that these packs should be delivered on time,” said Mr Munaff, who runs his own IT company in Ajman.

The scheme is funded entirely by members of the group, who deliver the food to camps in Ajman and Sharjah.

“We are just a group of like-minded friends who want to help others,” said Ms Khan. “Nothing can replace the pleasure that we enjoy when seeing the smiles and gratitude on the faces of labourers,” she said.

“We are not a bigwig, ambitious organisation. We are just performing our duty in taking take care of our brothers who are far away from home.”

akhaishgi@thenational.ae