We are citizens of a third-world country where hunger is undoubtedly the worst weapon of mass destruction and is the cause of most evils. It doesn’t seem so to many of us because majority reading this have been blessed and never experienced the harsh atrocities of life. Good news is that we now posses the resources at hand to defeat this cruel enemy at a very reasonable cost and provide food for the hungry but sadly, no one comes forward to end this scourge of poverty.
Within the scintillating lights of the city Karachi lies Khuda ki Basti, an area which is the blatant proof of why hunger is a terrifying torture. In the year 2002, a lady named Parveen Saeed set out to bring a change by eliminating the hunger through Khana Ghar .She and her husband are also the founders of Hassan Saeed Welfare Trust which runs two major projects, Khana Ghar and Dawa Ghar (Medical and Maternity home).
I have seen her on a couple of TV shows and always had the urge to meet her in person. Last year I was given an assignment to interview a personality and the first named that popped into my mind was of her. Being a resident of Surjani Town herself, she and her husband are both educated and have earned their Masters degree in Journalism from Karachi University. Both of them were absolute philanthropist by heart and wanted to make themselves productive towards the society and destiny soon provided them with the opportunity.
Nine years back, Parveen Saeed once heard news of a woman who had murdered her two children because she couldn’t bear to watch them slowly starve to death. That incident was disheartening enough to shock her from the inside and she thought of acting immediately. Hence the idea of Khana Ghar sparked where a full meal for only 3 rupees would be available for the residents of the area. There are hundreds and thousands of philanthropic organizations providing free food but she still charges a cent: why is that? She replied, “….she wants to send a message that when people buy or pay even a little they will NOT misuse food and second: the logic of keeping a very low price will in turn drive people to work enough to get this meal – hence, changing their perspective on life”.But it’s free for the homeless senior citizens, widows and children. Also on religious occasions, they do announce packages in which a two-month reserve of food stock is given as well.
Hurdles are part of the process when one decides to do something for the benefit of the society. Similarly, journey to the Khana Ghar wasn’t even close to the word easy. They started off with a door-to-door free food delivery service. Later, cart vendors were hired to deliver food tiffins to the needy in the area.
It’s really a tough call when the organization itself is running on funds. Around 300 people eat at Khana Ghar daily and the cost of it is about Rs. 10,000 a day and with the growing recession rate, it’s really getting hard for them to maintain the budget. The organization does not spend any money on advertisement campaigns due to the same reason. Since 2007, the electronic and print media have been approaching them for documentaries and interviews. In their words, all this media attention has helped them in gathering a good amount of national and international donors but their number is not large. The organization even allow citizens to investigate on their own about Khana Ghar’s credibility before handing over their donations as they don’t want people to remain in any doubt.
Parveen Saeed’s dream is to open a branch of Khana Ghar in every under-developed area of Karachi as she believes that if we pledge to eliminate hunger, we can surely reduce the growing crime rate.