Feeding poor families at Eid
Sri Lanka has done much to lift its people out of poverty, but areas of severe deprivation remain. For the poorest families, the everyday experience of hunger bites even deeper during religious festivals.
Meera Sahib Latheef, 52, earns what he can at a clay brick manufacturing yard, but with two daughters still living at home, it is difficult to make ends meet. He cannot afford to complete construction of the family home, so they live in two unfinished rooms with no water supply.
Since injuring his leg, Meera has only been able to work a few days per week – driving the family deeper into poverty.
“My two daughters are young. They should be healthy. I need to provide quality and nutritious food for my entire family, but I am unable to do it regularly,” he told us.
Meera and his wife, Suhaira, outside their home in Paavatkulam village, Sri Lanka.
The household eat meat curry just once a month, as they can afford to buy meat only rarely. During Eid, the price of meat shoots up even higher.
“Eid al-Adha is holy month and festival. However, I face many financial burdens, especially providing sufficient food.”
This year, the family were among 2,560 in Sri Lanka to receive a meat pack provided by Islamic Relief Waqf.
“Alhamdulillah, praise God, we eat a delicious lunch on the festival day.”
“The meat pack contains three kilogrammes of meat, so my wife keeps some for the next few weeks. It really reduces our burden.”
Suhaira prepares the Qurbani meat, ready for cooking.
The Waqf-funded ” feeding poor families ” project also helped Manakiba Abdul Manaf and her family to celebrate the holy day with nutritious food. We visited the mother-of-six at her home in Selvanagar village. Manakiba built their dwelling herself, from tin sheeting, tarpaulin, and whatever other materials she could find.
“My daughters sleep inside the cottage, and my husband and I sleep in the courtyard,” she said. “Our sleep is disturbed by snow, mosquitoes, and strong cold winds. It is very difficult to sleep during rainy days since rainwater enters the cottage.”
With no other way to earn a living, Manakina has to beg in order to supplement her husband’s meagre wage as a labourer, she told us, describing the grinding poverty she and her family experience.
“The day before yesterday I did not prepare meals, as I did not have even a single rupee. My husband did not go to work as he was suffering from fever. Many times my children and I had an empty stomach and nobody supported us, apart from my mother – who is also a beggar. Bread is a good meal, but nowadays I cannot afford to buy bread since it costs more than making rice.”
Food insecurity affects every aspect of their lives, said Manakina, 34. It makes her children ill and even prevents them from making the most of their education, and with it the chance of a brighter future.
“I am very concerned about the health of the children. My younger children will not go to school if they do not have anything to eat. My elder son and daughter will go to school with empty stomach”.
Even at Eid, the family would have gone hungry but for the Qurbani meat provided by Islamic Relief Waqf for feeding poor families at Eid.
“I had nothing to prepare for festival meals,” explained Manakina. “When I received three kilogrammes of Qurbani meat I was very happy! I gave my children rice and Qurbani meat for breakfast, and the same meal for lunch. There was enough meat for the rest of the Eid days too.”
“I celebrate the Eid days with my children by having enough food. Having good meals at Eid makes us feel happy.”
“Alhamdulillah, praise God, I am very thankful to the Almighty and Islamic Relief for providing us with food on Eid day. I make du’a (give prayers) for the wellbeing of all who supported us”.
Manakiba and her family regularly go hungry, but Qurbani meat nourishes them for days.
Dressed in their Eid clothes, given to them by a local philanthropist, the children sit to eat with their mother.
Manakiba hopes her family can move from their makeshift shelter to a permanent home before the next monsoon.