Five sisters from Stonehaven will swap opening presents on Christmas Day for handing out food to the homeless in a bid to ensure no one goes without a hot meal over the festive period.
The daughters of local businessman Syed Abdul Hamid, who is also known as Raj, were inspired by their dad’s generosity throughout the pandemic, which saw him offer up free meals to NHS workers and frontline staff at his restaurant Carron to Mumbai based in the town.
Helping those in need
As well as celebrating those on the frontline, Raj and his family have continued to support those in need, and now his five girls aged 7 to 13, have taken inspiration from him to do something for the community themselves.
Bushra (7), Jamila (8), Maryam (10), Hazera (11) and eldest Kolsuma, who is 13, all attend Mackie Academy and Arduthie Primary School and are looking forward to helping others this festive season.
Kolsuma said: “We noticed that there was a demand to help families that could do with support by the fact there was a foodbank at the Square in Stonehaven.
“As with most faiths, as Muslims, we felt it was our duty to help those less fortunate than us. We know the Muslim community in Aberdeen already do something, so thought we could bring this offering to Stonehaven”.
Hazera added: “Due to the pandemic people have been losing their jobs so they are struggling to get food, as well as the homeless people, so I think helping them, especially at this time of year, would be a nice way to give back to the community.”
As well as serving up at Carron to Mumbai, those in need can also collect hot meals from Indian takeaway Nu Spice, also owned by Raj, which will host vegetarian and meat options for people to pick up.
Generosity is in the family
Raj recently won a High Street Hero award in the north-east as part of the Scotland Loves Local campaign for his humanitarian work in helping the local community since the start of the pandemic.
He is proud of his daughters’ thoughtful actions and has been more than happy to support their desire to help those most in need during this difficult time.
He said: “I’m very proud that my daughters came to me with the idea of handing out hot food to people who need it on Christmas Day. Stonehaven is our home and I’m delighted to support my girls in helping those that need it.
“They will be handing out food both at the Carron to Mumbai restaurant and New Spice takeaway Indian takeaway across the road. We have teamed up with Aberdeen Muslims to give out hot food containers to those who aren’t able to get hot food or make hot food themselves, and anyone is welcome to pick up free takeaway food from both venues.
“There will be a vegetarian option and meat option for people to have. The meat option will be beef as it is very festive, so we’ll have an Indian roast beef curry with rice and pakora. People can also get chicken instead.
“My family is Muslim and for children, any kind of festivity whether it is Eid for us, Christmas, or any other religion, it is a moment they enjoy. It is so rewarding as a parent seeing them want to give back to others when we can.
“We continue to provide free food to NHS workers and frontline workers. We’ve continued to do that since we started it and we’re still getting a lot of orders from frontline workers.”
Aberdeen Muslims and Foodbox
Teaming up with volunteer organisation Aberdeen Muslims who are the founders of Foodbox, an initiative which sees the team hand out free food to those in need, Raj is delighted to bring a city-wide initiative to Stonehaven.
The food project has been running in Aberdeen for nearly five years and has helped thousands of people in need.
Sumon Hoque, founder of Aberdeen Muslims, added: “It is great to see the next generation thinking of others and getting involved in charitable work such as providing food to those that are hungry.
“We encourage other youngsters to draw inspiration from the five sisters and do whatever they can to help their local community through these challenging times.
“Foodbox is always looking to do collaborative projects with others and we are working closely working with Stonehaven food bank The Haven Community Larder in order to make sure this is as a long term project for the girls”.