It is around nine in the morning. Sixty year old Yunus H Kapadia drives his wife Munira in his autorickshaw to the Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah (FMB) community kitchen of the Dawoodi Bohras, at the massive Bohra Jamatkhana in Kandivali West. Dressed in what is called libas al-anwar (the community’s distinctive attire), Yunus in white overcoat with kurta pajama under it and a skull cap and Munira in a colourful rida, the couple loads two bags containing tiffin boxes and leaves.
They spend the next few hours, dropping off hot, hygienically prepared meals to the doorsteps of dozens of Bohra families in high rises and small houses both in Kandivali West and East. ‘We feel blessed that we began delivering food from the day the service started. I will continue doing it till my last breath,’ resolves Yunus, his mask quivering over his white bearded face.
The brainchild of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the 52nd spiritual head of the over one million strong Dawoodi Bohras globally, FMB completed 10 years this August. Syedna Burhanuddin’s son and successor Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has been instrumental in implementing his father’s vision to ensure that no Bohra goes to bed hungry.
‘Syedna Burhanuddin wanted every Bohra household to get at least one nutritious meal a day. We feel privileged and blessed that we have been able to achieve this,’ says Mustafa Yusuf Ali, secretary of the Kandivali Bohra Jamaat. Today the FMB programme provides meals to over 100,000 Bohra houses in 900 villages, towns and cities in 40 countries spread over five continents.
One of the reasons Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin initiated FMB, says Kandivali kitchen’s secretary Huzaifa Javadwala, was that he wanted the community’s women to be free of their cooking chores and utilise their time to pursue careers, start their own businesses, tend to their children and households or help their husbands in their businesses. Fatema Ebrahim Lilamwala says she could not have begun her online trade in utility items had she not received the nutritious meal six days a week (no food service on Sunday). ‘If I’m able to do business besides managing two kids and old in-laws, it’s because I’m free from worries of cooking,’ says Lilamwala.
Guided by a team of experts stationed at the community’s headquarters, Badri Mahal in Fort, the programme is executed by community members volunteering at different kitchens. From preparing a monthly menu under a trained dietician’s guidance to peeling beans, cutting capsicums, rolling chapatis and preparing curries, the teams work with a sense of bonding.
After all the tiffin boxes for the 490 Bohra families registered with the Kandivali Jamat have been filled and sent, members of the Dana (grain) Committee scrub cooking pots and pick up every fallen piece of food. ‘Whatever food we are left with, goes to those in need,’ says Adnan Dhahodwala, an IT engineer who volunteers with the Dana Committee.
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