By Shafeeq Alingal
Everyone tends to be extremely vocal when it comes to bringing down food waste and feeding the needy, but the least effort to materialise the ideas. At a time of great challenges, a team, under the aegis of Wa’hab, is showing the way by taking up the lead to feed the poor by collecting surplus food and minimising food waste.
Started in 2017, Wa’hab is gaining momentum in Qatar as its efforts to secure surplus food have started yielding results. “Our’s is a unique mission and we spend time and efforts to help the people in need get food while bringing down the food waste,” said Wardah Mamukoya, founder and managing director of Wa’hab, while talking to Community at Chef’s Garden.
The Arabic word Wa’hab literally means bestowing and the team does justice to the name through helping the hungry get food on their doors.
Driven by the theory that sustainability means caring for others, Wa’hab team has turned out to be a familiar presence in venues of mega events that are held across Qatar.
“We urge people to not waste food. And with mega events, we set up kiosks where excess food is collected. Besides, we receive calls from parties if excess food is available. And our volunteers collect the fresh food and distribute it to the hungry,” said Wardah.
The initiative won accolades during the last two editions of Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) by collecting surplus food daily and delivering it to the needy throughout Doha after gently packing it. The idea was implemented as an experiment during QIFF 2018. Some of the volunteers approached stalls, asking them whether they had surplus food. The initiative was later developed into a start-up after Wa’hab members received overwhelming volunteer requests. During the latest QIFF event, an exclusive area was set up for food collection and packing. ‘Food Heroes’, Wa’hab’s dedicated volunteers, evoked a good response and the collected food items were transported to labour camps.
Excess fresh food is collected and delivered with the co-operation from authorised community and charity groups like Eid Charity.
“We hand over the food to these agencies as they know how to distribute it. Food is delivered to the deserved persons as they better know about the right beneficiaries?. Our vision is that no one needs to ever go hungry in the communities we serve and no food should go to the landfill. And we also ensure that the charity is carried out through proper channel,” Wardah said.
Wa’hab functionaries also make use of the food bank by Eid Charity to reach out to the poor in the community.
During the last Ramadan, Wa’hab initiated special drives to feed the people in need. Named Wa’hab Iftar Drive, the initiative could reach out to around 3,000 labourers who received Iftar meals costing QR10 in various locations of Qatar. Wa’hab got support from hundreds of benevolent persons across Qatar. The drive further witnessed the distribution of Eid gift boxes to labourers.
In order to ensure the involvement of people from various walks of life, Wa’had had launched ‘Kindness in a Box’ initiative in schools through which non-perishable food was collected from schools. As part of the initiative, drives were carried out at Netwon, Doha English, RGS Guildford and three other schools from where the functionaries received good support from students, staff and parents.
With 25 active members, Wa’hab has more than 250 volunteers across Doha. These volunteers are always available. The initiative’s activities are co-ordinated through a Whatsapp group that gives the volunteers regular updates about the missions. “Most of them are available for the noble cause if they get the call. And we often get help from the public to get things done smoothly,” Wardah added.
Wardah is thankful for the social media citing it helped Wa’hab in terms of getting volunteers and disseminating the initiative’s message to all.
Apart from events, Wa’hab has also started to concentrate on wedding functions and parties where food goes to waste. “Generous persons tend to contact us at the given number and want us to take the food. Our volunteers are glad to attend such calls,” she said.
The most beautiful part is that the expenses to run the initiative are often met by the members who volunteer Wa’hab. “They are available to serve and ready to give,” the managing director added.
Wa’hab’s activities are based on a few values that are conceived as the slogans of everyone who works for the initiative. “We are guided by certain values and we have developed a common-sense approach to feeding the less fortunate and managing food waste.? We want respect for each other, our partner agencies, recipients, donors, volunteers and our environment.? And we are committed to serving the community with integrity and working compassionately, honesty and with transparency,” Wardah added. During the last Eid al-Adha, Wa’hab joined hands with McDonald’s Qatar and distributed more than 200 innovative cooling towels to on-site construction workers at the labour camps in the Industrial Area.
In order to instill the culture of getting rid of food waste among younger generations, Wa’hab is now looking to carry out awareness campaigns in schools. “We want them to study the lessons of values and sustainability that make them human beings with virtues and ideal citizens,” she said adding that these campaigns will be carried in co-ordination with departments concerned and other stakeholders.
Taking a cue from the good response, Wa’hab received during the last three years, the functionaries are now looking to set up a company that will divert food waste into compost. “Excess food also means non-edible food. We can’t distribute them to anybody. And it seems exciting if we set up a business initiative that will help us make use of non-edible food waste. We need logistics and technology to achieve this and we are now taking up efforts to materialise this dream,” she added. Wa’hab functionaries can be contacted at +974 5503 8018 and [email protected]
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