Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Community mobilisation 

29 September 2010 07:27:35

Community mobilisation

A little bit of thinking can do wonders 

Sohail Rashid

ISLAMABAD, September 27, 2010: Most of us take pride in criticising the government for not doing enough for the poor. Only a handful of us think out-of-the-box and choose practical ways to mitigate the sufferings of the downtrodden in our midst.

Some traders in Sector G-8/1 have pooled their resources to serve free food to more than 200 labourers every day without fail. And they are doing this for six long years. They are performing this duty voluntarily under the Islamabad Traders Welfare Society, their self-made organisation. They offer free lunch and dinner to labourers working on daily wages in the capital.

“I come here every day to have my lunch and dinner from this ‘lungar’. I have been following this ‘ritual’ for at least three years. I cannot afford costly food served in roadside hotels as I earn a meager amount every day”, said Kareemdad, a labourer working on daily wages in Sector G-8/1.

Shabbir Khan, another labourer, said that the ’lungar’ is a blessing for him. He said that he manages his family expenses by having free food from the ‘lungar’. “I am very thankful to the traders for their great work for poor people like me”, he said while eating food.

“We have been running this free ‘dastarkhwan’ continuously since 2004 with the contribution of all traders in the sector”, said Arshad Ali Arshi, president of the Traders Welfare Society. He told this news agency that there are more than 100 traders in the market who contribute money for this noble task. “We have not fixed a particular amount of money for contribution, but traders voluntarily give a handsome amount to keep the ‘lungar’ running”, he added.

“Whenever it rains, it becomes difficult for us to serve food as we have no shelter”, Arshad said. He said that traders have a plan to construct a shed.

“Actually, we want to provide labourers a place where they could have food and rest after a hard day’s work in the open”, he said.

He said that in Islamabad, where everything is planned and even animals and birds have been provided with a zoo, labourers are still deprived of shelter. Most of them have to sleep in the open along roads and in greenbelts.

“We have written two letters to the CDA chairman, requesting him to give us a site for constructing a shelter but still we are waiting for his reply. We just need permission from the CDA. We will ourselves raise money for constructing the shelter’, Arshad said.

“Instead of criticising the government, I think everyone, who is blessed, should initiate something within his circle of friends and acquaintances in order to reduce poverty in the country”, he concluded.