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Insaf Sasta Tandoor – war on hunger

  • Posted On: 11th June 2013
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Have you ever wondered how Pakistan’s man on the street feeds himself? Ever thought of children that go hungry to bed? About those parents that are fighting to keep their bodies and souls together and are desperate enough to commit suicide because they cannot see their families starve? 

The most laudable scheme to fight growing hunger in Pakistan has been initiated by Imran Khan. Named Insaf Sasta Tandoor, it comes under the Insaf Trust Deed, which separates it from any political affiliations. Private individuals, who are motivated and dedicated to combat poverty on a long-term basis, volunteer to set up sasta tandoors in the poorest areas of Pakistani cities. For a token of Rs. 5, they receive a substantial bowl of daal and 2 naans. In the Punjab, there are already eight tandoors supplying over 700 meals a day.Two tandoors have already been launched in Karachi, one in Shireen Jinnah Colony and the second near the Kalapul Bridge in Hazara Colony.

One such brave volunteer who has taken up the cause selflessly is Mrs. Sadia Agha. Already dedicated to a school she has been running for many years, Sadia speaks about her conviction and gives reasons for devoting her efforts to Sasta Tandoor at Kalapul.

What drove you to work for Sasta Tandoor? What was your inspiration? 

Sadia Agha: “The hunger I saw in the eyes of my welfare school kids – all 400 of them – led me to look for a project where I could help feed the poor. Most of the children come without breakfast; therefore, as a matter of policy we now give them free milk. This led my friends to get together and form a group to combat hunger. All of us, at the Insaf Sasta Tandoor, feel that we have a responsibility towards our common man, who is struggling under economic pressures. The suicides and the abandonment of their children inspired us towards this project.

When I heard about the Sasta Tandoor project started by Imran Khan, and going by his reputation of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, I decided to use his platform and open one in Karachi. We as a group, felt that since Imran’s projects were already doing good work, why not join him as opposed to making our own platform. Here I would like to clarify that we are not a political group. We work purely for the betterment of the less fortunate. Neither do we have any political inclinations and are only associated with Pak Insaf Welfare Trust, not with Imran Khan’s political party. Moreover, we work as a group and all are on an equal footing.”

How did you start on collecting the first year’s funding? 

SA: “By word of mouth, via our families and friends. We drafted a letter with the package details, made a group on Facebook and put it out to all the Pakistanis all over the world. It was Imran Khan’s reputation of being an honest man that helped us collect these funds. He has shown the world that he can deliver by giving us the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and the University in Mianwali.

Here, I would like to quote an incident that took place recently while I was at the Kalapul tandoor. A man from within the community came and handed me a Rs. 100 note and told me to feed the first 20 people in the queue. This was a clear indication that the community is developing a sense of ownership and people are becoming stakeholders in the project without which no project can thrive. He felt that he could do his bit towards his people and did not need huge sums of money to do so. Also, I’d like to add that we do all our procurement of ingredients from this community so as to benefit the locals. It costs us more but then it’s more important to have them join in with the cause.”

What strata of the Pakistani society do you find to be most generous? 

SA: “We have basically targeted the middle upper income level people – educated people who have a passion for Pakistan and want to do something for the betterment of our less fortunate.”

What is your final ambition with ST? 

SA: “We, as a group, want to open as many Sasta Tandoors as possible but need all the help in the world, as it is a mammoth task. We need a lot of funding and volunteers who can give of themselves selflessly.”

Would you like to add any other information?

SA: “We would like to stress that we are not a political group, and neither do we have any political ambitions. We don’t want to be associated in that light whatsoever. The community has welcomed us and people have come forward to help us as volunteers to organise and discipline the people. We have also arranged for a doctor who will sit at the Sasta Tandoor thrice a week and offer free consultancy to help the community. Since the Tandoor opens its doors at 3pm, we will also be starting vocational classes in the mornings to provide practical skills to the people so that they are able to generate some income. We want to utilise the Sasta Tandoor premises to the maximum, since it is a huge rented room to be used for all these purposes. Our main aim is to help the common man. We don’t give handouts, therefore, charge Rs. 5 per meal of 2 naans and a bowl of daal. Most importantly, we want Insaf Sasta Tandoor to be an inspiration for people like us, to come out of their slumber and help the nation.”

Visitor impressions
“I visited the Sasta Tandoor yesterday…it was a wonderful heartwarming experience!
Great work by all those involved – it shows their love and dedication for Pakistan. I admire and am a fan of all the volunteers! Here, I must mention how well organised the whole process was!
The people who came for food at the Tandoor all waited patiently in queues… much more civilised than how some of ‘us’ act at weddings when food is served! There were two queues – one for men and another for women. No one broke the ranks; no male stood in the women’s line; we all should learn from them!
I must also mention that the children there were lovely!
All in all a wonderful, wonderful experience!
Thank you for taking me there and giving me a chance to help!”
Author’s impressions
Ever wondered about the stories that don’t make the headlines? About the faces that don’t make the front pages? About the places that journalists don’t visit?
Well, not so long ago, this writer was fortunate enough to visit Sasta Tandoor at Shireen Jinnah colony in Karachi. What an eye-opener! The squalor and poverty that exists in certain areas of Pakistan’s cities is a sad reminder of the plight of a massive section of the society. Pakistanis are known to be generous and hospitable. I certainly hope that after reading this article, more people will join in to help increase the numbers of Sasta Tandoors to alleviate the sad plight of the nation’s poor. Above all, the children were just wonderful: so patient, so disciplined, so curious… I will never forget the little hands that stretched out to receive food.
Thank you, Sadia, for giving me an opportunity to help.
Thanks also to the group of dedicated people who have made Sasta Tandoor a roaring success:
Bina Durrani
Farrah Rahman
Salima Feerasta
Jamal Ghaznavi
Shazia Khan
Kamila Sabzwari
Sereena S Chaudhry
Amena Shahrukh Lali
Seema Ahmed
Mahnaz Jooma
Alia Asim Arshid
Maliha Hassan
Dear Friends,
To combat hunger and the effects of soaring food inflation, we are working on a project called ‘Insaf Sasta Tandoor’ initiated by Mr. Imran Khan. This is the first of its kind in Karachi; several have already been launched in the Punjab and one each in Peshawar and Islamabad. The response has been overwhelming.
In simple terms, we need Rs. 180,000 to feed 9,000 plus needy people per month. This cost includes labour, supplies, premises’ rent, equipment, gas and electricity charges amongst others. The Tandoor provides a subsidised meal during lunch or dinner hours and charges Rs. 5 per head only. The meal consists of two naans and a bowl of daal.
You can choose to donate for:
100 meals Rs. 2000
300 meals Rs. 6000
500 meals Rs. 10,000
1000 meals Rs. 20,000
10,000 meals Rs. 200,000
Two Tandoors have already been launched in Karachi; one in Shireen Jinnah Colony and the second near the Kalapul Bridge in Hazara Colony. Our target is to launch many such Tandoors in Karachi, depending on the donations we receive.
Join in and support this noble cause, we need financial help and assistance to feed the unfortunate, let’s join hands to fight the ‘war against hunger’.
Look forward to your continued support,
Imran Khan
Donations can be made at:                                        Contacts:
Muslim Commercial Bank (Hotel Mehran)                  Firdous Naqvi 0300 201 4456
Account Title: Pakistan Insaf Welfare Trust               Jamal Ghaznavi 0321 200 1003
Account No. 09270301 9000172                                 Sadia Agha 0321 923 1245
Swift Code MUCBPAKKA                                            Dr. Arif Alvi 0300 822 1626

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