By Annisa Essack
In a world of materialism and selfishness, the saying; “One person can make a difference. . .” may seem clichéd but there are those who in their hearts want to make the world a better place for each other.
Shukoor Mowzer, thirty-five years ago, on the Day of Eid-ul-Fitr, with the help of two friends began feeding the less privileged from two pots of food. The pots were borrowed from Mowzers mother and the food sourced from local stores and butchers. And as the saying goes . . . the rest is history and the start of the Nakhlistan initiative.
More than 3 decades later, Nakhlistan has 300 volunteers cooking with 169 pots at the Callies rugby grounds in Athlone, Cape Town and feeding over 85,000 people.
Inspiration for the projection was sparked on pilgrimage to Makkah where his Eid meal consisted of a dry roll and a Pepsi. He made a promise to himself to ensure that he would eat a better Eid meal in the future. On his return to South Africa, he began making food and distributing it and at age 60 today, he is still hands-on, only leaving the cooking site at 6 am.
Fatima Allie, Nakhlistan’s public relations officer, said that when Mowzer and his friends started, they didn’t know what they were doing. What began as an Eid-Ul-Fitr feeding scheme has become operational throughout the year
Nakhlistan is a Persian word meaning oasis, chosen because “an oasis provides sustenance in the desert”. Mainly sponsored by the community and Mozwers’ concern now is to raise more funds as somebody needs to feed those in need.
To sponsor a pot costs in the region of about R3000 and each 130-litre pot of akhni feeds 320 adults or 500 children. A total of 4.4 tons of meat, 4 tons of rice, 7 tons of potatoes, 2 tons of onions and lots of spices and other ingredients will be used.
Distribution of the food is done through the existing networks such as the Mustadafin Foundation, an organisation that works with poorer communities, and reaches areas from Atlantis to Ocean View.
Allie says Nakhlistan plans to expand its cooking to 175 pots next year.