A New Hope

Many of you may have already heard of the international Who Is Hussain organisation. If not, do head over to their web site for a detailed overview:

The organisation has local representations spread out in several countries, each engaging with and addressing charitable causes in the name of Imam Hussain in their respective regions. 

In light of these continuous charitable efforts undertaken by Who Is Hussain teams all around the world, our team in Zurich has also been on the lookout for ways to somehow serve society with the rather limited resources that we have. The additional difficulty brought to us by 2020 is the pandemic, which severely restricts group activities aimed at reaching out to locals in public places in a safe manner.

After quite a bit of research, we may have finally found something sustainable in today’s climate.

There’s a charity, Essen für Alle, run by donations that provides food for the needy. They have built up a list of discounted suppliers, donors, and volunteers who pool their resources together and buy groceries (rice, oil, basic vegetables, desserts, hygiene articles, etc) in bulk, and distribute them weekly on Saturdays to about 1000 families in need.

This weekly distribution is a lot of work, and is done completely by about 100-120 volunteers. Considering the pandemic, these volunteers are selflessly and effectively risking their lives.

Since we’ve been mainly limited to Zoom events of late and missing out on Niyaz, the idea is that we could divert the Niyaz and provide lunch instead to these hero volunteers as they work on Saturdays.

The charity’s premises in Altstetten have large refrigerators and easy ways to heat up food. The idea is that we would drop off the food on Friday evening or Saturday morning (large pots of curries, lentil soup (daal), rice, etc. just as we would bring it to the Zainabiya Centre.

The volunteers would then heat it up themselves the next day and use it. This way, we minimize our exposure and risk, the volunteers get some of our varied international cuisine as a treat, and we do our bit for the greater good, as well as a bit of positive publicity, something that Muslims around the world desperately need today.

The aim, Insha’Allah, is to provide meals to these volunteers each week.
To make this happen on a sustained basis, we need YOUR help. In concrete terms,

1) We will need one or more families volunteering to cook for each weekly food drive, taking turns.
2) We will need someone to transport the food from the volunteer family’s residence to Altstetten, and also to take the last week’s empty pots to the next family’s residence.
3) We will need donors willing to reimburse the volunteer families with the costs incurred.
4) The food bank has even agreed to give us their cheaply sourced supplies (rice, oil, vegetables, etc. and even meat) to use as ingredients for this purpose.

Mashallah, we have all walks of people in our Jamaat who can volunteer either their culinary skills, time, transport, and/or funds. It is extremely important to us that no one feels pressured or obliged to contribute beyond their means – e.g. if someone has the time and ability to cook but is uncomfortable with the financial outlay, they will be reimbursed for their expenses by the central fund which will be stocked up Insha’Allah by those who have the money but no time.

This effort is being carried out jointly under the Zainabiya Association and Who Is Hussain banners, in order to give us both local and international visibility.
We have the pleasure of being able to say that we have already successfully run pilot runs over the last four weekends in December, and Mashallah, it has been an incredible, resounding success. The mostly Indian/Pakistani cuisine so far has absolutely delighted the volunteers, and not a single morsel of food is left each Saturday. Some impressions from the scene:

A single local volunteer serves the food for hygienic reasons
The queue of people receiving the groceries takes all day to process
In the meanwhile, the volunteers work in shifts and take breaks to eat
An example of the food as prepared by our community volunteers

Do let us know if, and how you can help. Any kind of assistance – cooking, transporting the food, financial, etc. will be greatly appreciated. We sincerely hope you may be able to join us in this humble venture.

Do reply directly to this email for more information and/or feedback.
Let’s make this work, Insha’Allah. Ya Ali Madad, and Ya Hussain!