PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) citizens have initiated a number activities in recent months to help the province's poor, redoubling their efforts during the holy month of Ramadan.
As the daily iftar approaches, a number of people distribute food and cold drinks to drivers, passengers, labourers and others on the main roads in Peshawar.
Dr. Shaukat Ali, a local who organised the project with some of his friends, said they aim to provide iftar to those still on the road, to help them break their fasts on time.
“We five friends have contributed some money to arrange food and drinks for around 50 people every day on Ring Road near Kohat Road,” he told Central Asia Online.
“This is the real spirit of Islam. This is the real jihad -- to serve the people especially when they need it,” he said.
Others also distribute food and drinks among day labourers and poor people in Peshawar Saddar, Qissa Khwani, Hayatabad, University Road and in suburban towns.
For example, Hamza Gigyani, 20, along with his friends, has placed a refrigerator on the main University Road in Peshawar where cold drinks and food are made available free of charge for street children, poor labourers and others.
“Those who need water, soft drinks or food come and get it from the fridge,” he told Central Asia Online.
The group of friends also prepare food and drinks for the needy every evening during Ramadan and distribute them in hospitals, orphanages and other places.
Spreading kindness and clothing
Many of the charity projects taking place in KP have been initiated by youth at the grassroots level, publicised through social media and word of mouth, and are aimed at creating a sense of community while helping those less fortunate.
One of the first highly visible of these projects launched in January.
Inspired by similar efforts in other parts of the world, a group of Peshawar youth painted a wall in the Hayatabad neighbourhood and named it the Wall of Kindness.
The wall is a place where local residents can drop off clothes, shoes and other items that others are welcome to pick up.
"The basic idea behind the Wall of Kindness is to leave what you don't need or take what you need," Asad Lohi, a Peshawar student behind the idea, told Central Asia Online.
Youth in many other Pakistani cities, including Islamabad and Karachi, have copied the idea, he said, adding that creating a Wall of Kindness requires very little effort and money -- just a wall and some paint.
"I needed better clothes, which I found here," Hamdullah, an elderly servant in Hayatabad, told Central Asia Online. "I don't need to buy them at the market now."
The Happiness Box
In April, youth launched a similar project, the Happiness Box, on University Road opposite the University of Peshawar.
The Happiness Box is a place where labourers and other needy individuals can pick up ready-made lunches.
"The Happiness Box is a great initiative, especially for day labourers sitting nearby [waiting for work]," young Peshawar writer Izharullah told Central Asia Online.
A man named Obaidullah runs the project, which feeds about 100 labourers and other impoverished Peshawarites twice a day, Izhar said.
"If other individuals help, we can extend the project by setting up a small restaurant ... to feed more people," he said. "The organisers have already told us this is the first phase. They're going to expand it to other parts of the city."
One volunteer, Abdul Majid of Peshawar, prepares lunch boxes and brings them to labourers in various parts of the city.
"I arrange lunch boxes on my own, with my own money," he told Central Asia Online. "I make videos of the smiling faces of the people I serve and post them on social media."
After he shared the videos, a number of other Peshawarites have approached him offering to support the cause, he said. "They donate food boxes and I provide them to the needy," he said.
A beacon of hope amid violence
People of the city are enjoying helping others in a relatively peaceful environment, said Peshawar TV journalist Tariq Waheed.
"We can do a lot for poor families and individuals using our own resources," he told Central Asia Online.
Some individuals are paying for the books, school uniforms and other needs of poor children in remote villages in KP, he said.
Some do not publicise what they do, while others post their activities on social media to encourage others to participate.
“These activities have brought colour and some happiness to Peshawar and other cities that were only in news for terrorist attacks and violence,” Waheed said.