“I have been organising Mawaed Al-Rahman for 22 years, and we have never faced any financial issue to offer free meals to people. We can serve over 800 meals daily in Ramadan,” said Mahasen Kelany, the founder of one of the biggest Ramadan charity tables in Hadayek Al-Kobba.
Mawaed Al-Rahman (tables of charity) are one of the oldest traditions of Ramadan in Egypt. Mawaed Al-Rahman offer free iftars (fast breaking meals) bringing different factions of society together which promotes social solidarity and compassion among people.
In Egypt, Mawaed Al-Rahman are an inseparable part of Egypt’s history through which the people aim to leave no one without Iftar.
Kelany’s charity tables started in the middle of 1980s, after both of her parents died.
“I organised it on a small scale in the beginning, on behalf of their souls so as to increase their good deeds,” she told Daily News Egypt, referring to an Islamic belief that someone’s deeds can increase by good actions dedicated to his soul.
Her charity tables presented reasonable amounts of home-cooked food. Expanding over the years, Kelany’s Mawaed Al-Rahman can serve almost 800 meals daily in Ramadan.
“Anyone is welcome to have Iftar on the established tables here in the street. We also send food to needy families,” she said.
Over 80 volunteers help Kelany in establishing charity tables daily, where some cook the food and others serve it to “guests” and organise the process.
The expenses of holding charity tables increase annually due to price hikes in Egypt. The whole thing costs Kelany about EGP 4,500 daily. However, this never stopped her from serving free food to people, even when she does not have enough money.
Kelany’s Mawaed Al-Rahman usually serve rice, soup, vegetables, and fruits.
“Sometimes I don’t have enough money to hold Mawaed Al-Rahman for the next day, but suddenly donations start pouring in from unknown people, which makes me believe that I am just a tool to deliver food for the people,” she concluded.
All photos taken by Fadel Dawood.