Creating a community of needy- Lighting the candle of one’s share
By: Yasir Ilyas and Sohail Rashid
As the dusk sets in, you will see a pleasant sight in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). People will start gathering in front of emergency of PIMS and assemble there in queues, a few of them carry water bottles with them.
There is no discrimination among them, mostly they are attendants of patients inside, some are common vendors, and a few are laborers and daily wageworkers of nearby markets.
All of them enjoy a free meal (dinner) supplied by a generous person ‘Haji Mushtaq Ahmed Malik’. Mr. Malik has been doing this activity for last two and half year or so on daily basis. He heads the charity ‘Allah o Akbar Trust’ and serves these poor people as social service.
“I do not have any political or publicity agenda behind this activity. This is only to seek blessings of Allah as I dreamed of,” said Mr Malik.
The poor who enjoy this free meal are thankful to the charity. Karam Elahi, one of the beneficiaries, said, “We are thankful to them as they think of our hunger. I earn only Rs. 100-150 a day and cannot afford to eat even at food kiosk. This free meal at Mr Malik’s ‘Dastarkhwan’ is a blessing for us.”
Gulzar Ahmed who dines at this place said, “I am a security guard at a private building in F-8 Markaz, I earn Rs.6000 per month and I have to feed a large family. Every day, I skip my lunch and only have free dinner so that I can send money to my family back home in Charsadda. I feel ashamed of dinning here but I do not have any other option,” he said with tears in his eyes.
Mr Sajid, 10,said, “My father is hospitalized here, he is a kidney patient, we came from Dera Ghazi Khan. My uncle and I eat daily from this ‘dastarkhwan’. We take our lunch from outside (hotel) which costs from Rs 150 to 200 daily. So we cannot afford to have dinner from outside.”
About 800-900 people eat from this ‘dastarkhwan’ every night. Haji Mushtaq Ahmed Malik comes almost daily, meets people; volunteers distribute food after some prayers.
When INFN asked Haji Mushtaq what prompted him to undertake free meal distribution initiative, he said: “Once I came to see one of ailing relatives at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). I heard some attendants of patients saying they did not have food and they were feeling hungry. I asked them why they did not eat. They said they do not have money to buy food. So, I brought food for them but I found there some more people awaiting food. I promised to bring food them next day also. This was a turning point when I thought of starting it on a regular basis. Thanks God, it is continuing for the last two and half years.”
After losing a son and a daughter in an accident, Haji Mushtaq fully devoted himself for social services. He helped beggars to get some sort of work for cash. He has also set up a low cost food outlet (restaurant) at Pirwadhai bus stand where only Rs 10 are charged for full meal, a totally subsidized ratet, from the poor workers and in this way, their self esteem is also preserved. The Punjab government has provided support to run this hotel. Haji Mushtaq thanked Mian Shahbaz Sharif for his support in this project.
He said many generous people donate money for free meals to the poor attendants of patients and the poor workers and that is why this charity has been able to feed to 800-900 people every day. He urged the people to initiate such projects in their ambit or join him to providing food to hungry people in different hospitals of twin cities.
The free meal ‘dastarkhwan’ run by the Trust has literally created a new community who shares their grieves and sorrows and help each other. When some poor and needy family’s patients need blood, the volunteers benefiting from the ‘dastarkhwan’ donate blood to save lives.
Mr. Malik claimed to generate 1125 bottles of blood through this activity, which are distributed amongst needy persons.
Such noble deeds are a lesson for others amongst all of us. When Mr Malik can do all this for the sake of humanity why other cannot do it while God has given them resources. Mr. Malik has proved that “where there is a will, there is a way.”