They feed the hungry like their ‘guests’
Voluntary organisation 'Mehman' has been providing free dinner and Iftar among patients and their attendants at Chapainawabganj Sadar Hospital during the month of Ramadan.
The 250-bed hospital only provides meals only for 250 of its inpatients and it does not have the capacity or a canteen from where the excess patients, attendants of patients or visitors can buy food or meal.
Organisers of Mehman use fresh ingredients to prepare the meals five days a week and distribute the freshly-cooked meal the same day at the hospital.
This service has been immensely helpful especially for the attendants who cannot afford to buy food from outside or do not have any relative living in the vicinity.
During a visit to the hospital on last Saturday, this correspondent found a good number of attendants who lined up to get free meal, being distributed by Mehman near the kitchen of the hospital.
Julfan Begum of Kholsi village in Nachole upazila got her 22-year-old son, Mohammad Masud, admitted to the hospital on Thursday.
She said she has to get dinner for both her son and herself from Mehman, as the hospital is too far from her home, from where her family members are not able to bring food for them at night.
Buying one meal and Iftar from restaurants is not a feasible option either, because that way she would need to spend at least Tk 100 for one person each day, she explained.
According to Mehman, around 150 people received meal from them that day.
One of the organisers of Mehman and a retired government employee, who requested not to be named, said in 2019, after the misery of attendants of poor patients came to their notice, they started a programme to provide meal at Tk 5 for attendants at the hospital.
Although number of inpatients often exceeds the hospital's 250-bed capacity, meal is provided to only 250 patients every day, forcing the rest to arrange meals from elsewhere.
The situation initially prompted five humanitarians to start serving meals for the attendants and currently 50 of them, all of whom prefer to remain anonymous, are volunteering for Mehman.
Their regular menu includes vegetable hotchpotch and sometimes chicken vegetable hotchpotch. Some days during this Ramadan, they are also serving chicken biriyani and Iftar, he added.
"It feels good to be a part of this programme. We spend a lot of money on trivial things. But once in a while, why can't we spend only Tk 3,000 or Tk 4,000 to feed the hungry?" said another organiser of Mehman.