Having its toll on people’s lives, businesses, and health, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many families across the world struggling to put food on the table.
In Melbourne, a group of Muslim women were determined to help their community and break the stereotypes surrounding them.
Towards that end, they gather every Friday from across the city to cook up dishes to help struggling families during Melbourne’s second coronavirus lockdown.
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“There is a stereotype of women in hijab that they are not doing anything for the community,” Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria chairperson Afshan Mantoo told SBS Urdu.
“When someone takes food, they say, ‘oh! A Muslim woman is doing something’; it feels good.”
The food is served in large packs that can support families for three days. Volunteers take extra health measures while cooking, including wearing masks and regular temperature checks.
The kitchen assists people of different backgrounds and religions – from white Australians to Indians and Sikhs.
“Students, families, refugees and people from all walks of life come and take the food we prepare,” Mantoo said.
This act of generosity falls in line with what many Muslims have done across the world to offer help.
For example, Monaco Muslim forward Keita Balde paid for the accommodation of 80 key workers in Barcelona during pandemic.
British Muslim businessman Yousuf Bhaliok, for instance, donated £200,000 to NHS in March, launching an appeal to raise £1 million.
A local mosque in Lancashire was also recognized for its efforts to provide medicine, food, and virtual programs for the community during the COVID-19 lockdown.