Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

Children wait for meals provided through the initiative, Family Kitchen, which packages excess foods from five-star hotels to underprivileged families during the holy month of Ramadan, in Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan, June 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2018

Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

  • A team of volunteers collect unwanted food from lavish Ramadan buffets
  • Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago

AMMAN: At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman’s five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families.
Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago, angered by the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region.
“What we do is eliminate this waste, we salvage the food and provide it to people who are in desperate need of it,” said Sharif, a 33-year-old teacher.
His team of volunteers now works all year round to collect unwanted food from large wedding parties, bakeries and restaurants.
This year the initiative has focused on the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, one of the depressed areas in a country that has seen some of the biggest protests in years this month over steep price hikes, which are backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Critics say the price hikes are to blame for rising poverty in Jordan.
Family Kitchen’s initiative this year provides ‘iftar’ meals — eaten by Muslims after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan — to 500 families in the impoverished refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman.
A third of the camp’s 120,000 residents have an income below the national poverty line and around 17 percent are unemployed, the UN refugee body says.
“Our families are very poor, there is a lot of poverty in the community, so they need this support, they need these meals in order to ensure that they have food the next day,” said Kifah Khamis, who runs a charity in the sprawling camp.
One camp resident, Um Thair, a mother of four, said she could not have coped without the meals delivered to her family.
“I was able to save money. During Ramadan I didn’t have to buy a lot of food or shop a lot, we got most of our meals from the charity, we would come everyday and get our iftar meal,” she said.

Arab stand-up comedians star in new Netflix series

Updated 49 min 31 sec ago

Arab stand-up comedians star in new Netflix series

  • Comedians of the World will be the first of its kind to feature Arab comedians
  • Four comedians from the Middle East made the cut

DUBAI: Netflix has announced a new show that features stand-up comedians from the Arab world.

“Comedians of the World” – expected to debut on Jan. 1 – will be the first of its kind to feature Arab comedians, according to Netflix.

The series brought together 47 comedians from 13 regions around the world and was filmed in eight languages. Four comedians from the Middle East made the cut — Moayad Al-Nefaie and Ibraheem Al-Khairallah from Saudi Arabia, Adi Khalefa from Palestine and Rawsan Hallak from Jordan. Each of the talents will have a 30-minute stand-up special dedicated to them.

Adi Khalefa

“After 12 years of doing stand-up comedy, this was like a big reward for me and I hope this is just the first step,” Khalefa told Arab News.

From Nazareth — commonly known as “the Arab capital of Israel” — Khalefa has performed in multiple comedy festivals around the world and his latest show, “Billiat-Show” — inspired by his personal, social and political experiences — sold out more than eight times.

For Al-Khairallah, being part of a platform that showcases internationally acclaimed comedians such as US funnyman Dave Chappelle is an honor.

“I love Dave Chappelle so much, so when I go on Netflix and see a show I am featured in right next to a show of Dave Chapelle, I feel blessed,” he said.

Before stand-up comedy, Al-Khairallah worked in banking in Saudi Arabia and only took his act to the stage as a hobby.

Ibraheem Al-Khairallah

Meanwhile, Hallak said that she feels proud to represent Arab and hijab-wearing women in comedy.

“It’s not easy to be an Arab female comedian, but it sends a strong message, because generally speaking, we don’t have the confidence to put ourselves out there and share our thoughts and opinions, but so far the response from my audiences has been good,” she said.

Hallak explained that viewers should expect her material to be based on lighthearted subjects that affect women.

“I like to focus on stories and issues that involve women, such as the latest fashion trends,” she said.

Rawsan Hallak

Meanwhile, Khalefa said he likes to talk about his feelings and anything that he finds funny — but if viewers expect comedy with a moral message, it just isn’t his style.

“Mr. Bean, who is a comedic genius, makes comedy about nothing and he is extremely respected. So, it is not necessary to have a message in your stand-up. But I like to vary my style too, so whatever I find funny, really,” he said.

For the stand-up stars, the Netflix show has given them an opportunity to take their brand of comedy to a global audience.

“Netflix has so many viewers worldwide, taking us from a local level to an international one,” Hallak said.