For 20 years, Indian expat hands out Iftar to workers in UAE
Abu Dhabi - His sense of giving and humanity was recognised by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance.
Ramadan reminds of helping others and showing mercy and generosity, particularly to those in need. But for Indian expat Sathyapalan P., every day is a day of giving.
Sathyapalan, who moved to the UAE from Kerala 27 years ago, has been handing out home-cooked meals to thousands of workers every month for almost 20 years.
"Everyone has to sacrifice something to help someone else," said Sathyapalan. "My message is to love all and serve all, without any limitations."
The 59-year-old is part of the Sathya Sai International Organisation, which includes 250 families, who cook home-made meals and distribute them across the UAE. The distribution takes place during the last week of every month. Moreover, on the second Friday of every month, the team provides between 400-500 meals to workers. With an average distribution of 1,400-1,800 meals every month, a whopping 20,000-24,000 meals are handed out annually by the team.
Sathyapalan's sense of giving and humanity was recognised when he was rewarded last week, by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance.
Sathyapalan's mission for this year's Ramadan is to feed workers every day throughout the holy month. The organisation has chosen an accommodation in Abu Dhabi with 150 Muslim workers.
Two to three families cook the food and distribute it at the Mussafah accommodation. Often, the workers themselves pick their food for the day. "Seeing the smiles on workers' faces is what made me continue doing this for almost two decades," he said. "As soon as I heard about this organisation, I wanted to be associated with it, because it's an inspiring and selfless service; it's all about sharing."
Moreover, since the beginning of the summer season in the UAE, Sathyapalan and his team have been distributing fresh drinks to workers spotted working on the roads and job sites. "Although giving out cold drinks may seem like a small gesture, for the worker, it means a lot," he said.
"When they get the cold water they feel so happy, you can just see it. Once you do this and see their happiness and appreciation, you will be encouraged to continue."
"A lot of the workers are here without their families and without home-cooked meals. So we need to do what we can to make them feel closer to home." He said he is happy to see a huge cut down in food wastage last year due to government initiatives. "Any wastage of food, energy (environmental) and money should be always avoided."
He advised families, who often cook enormous feasts during Ramadan, to simply plan ahead and cut down on food wastage. "If there are large quantities of food remaining from an Iftar, it should be distributed and shared with others. It is our responsibility to serve others; we have to do what is within our capacity."
Sathyapalan said we should not look at the differences in others, but rather, look at the common ground we all share. "We want to share happiness, peace and co-exist with all. My main message is: See only good in people, and do only good for people."