Examples of simple social services [Archives:2005/887/Community]

October 20 2005

It is a fact that Yemen, like most other Arab countries, lags behind most of the world in education, technology, health care, social welfare, etc. Part of the blame falls on the destructive and wild minds and thoughts, which happen to be responsible for (mis)leading the development process, and the march towards Yemen's economical prosperity.

The other part of the blame falls on the Yemeni society, and I simply mean by society the people themselves, excluding absolutely all its political leaders. It is very important to make the distinction between the society and its political leaders, in order to realize the roles and responsibilities of each.

But it is also true that the needs of our society have priorities, and thus first things need to be done first. Our current time is a time of hardship and agony for the majority of our society. There are many people back home that are in dire need of simple things that many of us have taken for granted, such as food, clothes, and a warm place to live in with enough space for a human being.

On the summer of 2004, when I was leaving one of the restaurants in Sana'a with a friend, after a big meal, lots of little poor kids started gathering around us, asking for at least ten Rials so that they buy a loaf of bread to feed their empty stomachs – gone are the days, not very long ago, when five Rials had some worth to it -. That's when my friend suggested, after a little pondering, that a group of people go to these restaurants everyday to gather the remnant food, so that they can later deliver it to the hungry people, who can hardly secure a single small meal for one day.

But one should bear in mind that if any group of people is to adopt this idea, then they should pay particular attention to the condition of the food they collect. We should love for other people, what we love for ourselves. Therefore, some restrictions must be considered as to what we shall exactly refer to as food remnant, because cats and dogs can also eat food remnants.

There are two simple ideas that I would like to present to you. First, Collecting Remnant Food from Restaurants in Sana'a [to start with!]. Recently, many new restaurants have opened in the Capital city, mainly along Haddah Street, for all what it is famous for, and on many other locations in the city.

Regardless of whether this new phenomenon is good or bad, there is one thing that we may agree on: it is not fair to throw huge amount of food everyday to the garbage. Usually food in the kitchen that is not served or the leftover from customers' plates is thrown away. The customer pays for all the food anyway, so why not make a better use of food remnant instead of simply throwing it away?!

Second, is a similar idea, which is establishing Food Banks at schools, universities, mosques, and neighborhoods. This means that we allocate a small room or a box, depending on the expected amount of donations within a particular community, in which people can make small food deposits from their excess food supply. These food deposits can later be used to supply those who cannot afford essential food items.

People can deposit anything into food banks like pastas, cereals, rice, sugar, canned products like beans and tuna, cheese, you name it. Unlike the one time donations provided to the needy people from charity, a food bank will be a continuous source of food that will cover basic needs for a family or an individual. A food bank is a simple idea that needs only three resources for its implementation:

1. People willing to deposit small food items on a regular basis, it could be as small as few grams of dates,

2. a reasonable amount of space for saving people's deposits, with a 24 hour access to it (a small hole in a wall or box would serve the purpose) , and

3. a trustworthy supervisor or a manager for the Food Bank, who could be a school's principle, an Imam of a mosque, or some responsible boy in the neighbourhood.

There may also be the need of providing fridges in food banks for the sake of storing certain kinds of food. In fact, the addition of a fridge to our food bank will make it possible for us to store food remnants, as suggested in the first idea, for some time. Storing of the remnant food collected from restaurants in the food banks, will save us the additional task of having to worry about delivering the food to the people.

There are a large number of ways through which members of our society can contribute to those who need help. By providing aid to the poor and needy, we lift the misery off their life, so that they can focus on other issues, and deal with other concerns. Once we feed our stomachs, we can then feed our minds, and thus contribute to Yemen's economical growth.

As for our government, it should start building a better and stronger infrastructure for the country, to enhance the country's economical growth.

It is beyond [everybody's] doubt that Yemen is a rich country, but one that lacks a productive investment of its wealth and money. We look forward to true investments in education, research and development.

* ” Zaid Al Basha” is an editor for ShababYemeni. ShababYemeni is an initiative by a group of inspired Yemeni Youth made specifically for the Yemeni Youth. SY could be contacted at [email protected]