Men, women, adults, and children of all ages are heartily eating the rice with the meat curry, pouring multi-vegetable gram gravy all over the rice plate.
The crowds of people having the meal are packed with all the table sets long enough to fill half the road, and some are waiting nearby for the vacant chairs.
Among those who are eating enthusiastically, some women are filling rice bowls, while others are filling multi-vegetable gram curry in some dwindling curry bowls.
Other volunteers are working by dividing their roles, such as placing the waiting people in the vacant space in a systematic manner, quickly preparing the rice plates and curries, returning the left-over rice plates after eating, and systematically dishwashing.
This scene was the rice meal donation of Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society in Nwe Aye Quarter, Dawbon Township, Yangon Region.
“We’ve been helping with patients and funeral services for a long time. We also assisted in the COVID-19 pandemic time. We are now serving free meals to everyone, young or old, rich or poor. All the members are helping here to their utmost, “said Daw Than Than (used alternative name), aged 60, who is one of the Dawbon Ward volunteers helping with the meal donation event.
Since the establishment of the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society, Daw Than Than has been an active participant in the team’s social activities.
Sharing food from charity groups and religious organizations, selling goods at discount prices, and donating meals are the greatest and only reliable straws in times of economic hardship and soaring commodity prices.
Among those sorts of donations, it includes the social activities of Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society.
Daw Than Than is essential for the team’s frequent donation activities. If the meal donation is to be carried out, the women’s group of Daw Than Than has to give a hand and prepare for cooking one day in advance.
They have to prepare for the whole day by peeling and chopping onions, washing kitchenware, and cutting vegetables, meats, and fish so that the cooking team is getting ready to cook.
“To serve today, we had to come here yesterday for the peeling and cutting of onions, which weighed 40 for 2 bags. For the multi-vegetable gram gravy curry, we have done cutting the vegetables till sunset”, said Daw Than Than.
On the meal donation day, we all have to go there very early to get ready to serve. We have to run all the processes tirelessly, putting the rice onto a plate, filling out the necessary dwindling plates, and putting the people in place. Those are the good wills of the group that wanted everyone to have the meals.
“As we work together, we assume we are not tired. We are happy, looking at those having the meals. “If the donors come up in a time of difficulty for a meal, we are very glad to work together for it,” said Daw Than Than.
Among the team’s social assistance activities, it was said to be the busiest during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They said that one group carried out the cooking to be able to have different religions for breakfast and dinner for those hospitalized COVID-19-infected patients and quarantined people, and the women’s group cut vegetables, meat, and fish to be able to cook readily as well as pack the meals neatly and glued the sticker logo of Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society on the meal boxes and then delivered those meal boxes to the COVID-19 center on time.
“Although COVID-19 is no longer active, there are still some donations available. If people are struggling in their lives, we help them. Another type of assistance we provide is for widows and widowers. We are helping as much as we can. We are always helping hands for all the activities. We are very willing to aid the mosque,” Daw Than Than added.
When people are in trouble, Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society is always getting ready to help with essential assistance and provisions. Daw Khatta, aged 69, living near the Dawbon Nwe Aye’s Mosque, said that we are very glad that people worked together for social activities.
Daw Khatta is one of the volunteers at Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society, and she has been with the team since it was established. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic time, she assisted the organization in preparing meal boxes, delivering those boxes, and helping with some funerals things as well.
Daw Khatta said she is actually in her old age, and taking no account of COVID infection during the COVID-19 period, she delivered the meal boxes to COVID centers and COVID treatment hospitals.
“As I am a charity worker, I am not frightened. I did it out of sympathy, “she recounted.
Actively taking part in the association’s social work, they sold eggs around the ward at discounted prices to be available for every household and were involved in the distribution of meals and curries with the leadership of the association through the donators’ provisions during the period of very high prices.
“It’s now extremely difficult because commodity prices have skyrocketed. Such donations are good deeds for the donors in times of need. We are also very happy since we have the chance of assistance”, Daw Khatta said.
While people face various difficulties, a Buddhist woman living in Dawbon ward described Nwe Aye mosque’s social assistance as “great, reliable help for all walks of life.”
She added, “The mosque is almost always serving meals. If there are meal donations there, all of our family members go there and have the meals. On Eid Mubarak days, we have got shared meat. “
She recounted that one of her family members was infected with COVID during COVID-19, the third wave, and needed oxygen at that time, yet survived due to the shared oxygen of Nwe Aye’s Mosque.
Since the establishment of the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Mosque over 150 years ago, it has established the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society to assist ward dwellers with religious events, funeral services, and social assistance regardless of race or religion, and the association has been in existence for 15 years.
Initially, the association’s services included charity events, funerals, and social activities within the ward and township. Then, during the COVID-19 period, it became well-known thanks to the daily distribution of meal boxes to COVID treatment centers and quarantine centers.
“We started our assistance by delivering 17 meal boxes to the COVID center for those facing difficult with meals. Then we continued sending meal boxes daily for all walks of life – monks, nuns, people, and all religions. “We distributed our meal boxes to 2500–3000 people from 220 COVID centers in Yangon two times a day,” said U Zaw Min Latt, the secretary of the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society.
They shared oxygen for the critically serious patients in COVID’s first, second, and third waves, and what’s more, Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society sold oximeters, blood pressure gauges, and medicines at normal prices when the normal market charged exorbitant prices.
“According to the association’s motto, hardship usually comes with ease,” he added.
The Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society raised the fund to carry out social assistance with no discrimination of religion. People in the ward and businessmen regularly donated to the fund. During the COVID pandemic, people from different religions donated money and some provisions for the meal donation program.
“The association has shared oxygen long before the COVID pandemic. During COVID’s third wave, members of the association went and queued for oxygen the whole night, and then they shared the oxygen they got with the public. There we could help to save many lives and ease the hardships of the people as much as we could,” continued U. Zaw Min Latt.
“Commodity prices are currently skyrocketing, putting a strain on people’s businesses. That’s why, to ease the pain of the public, we are donating meals and selling discounted eggs with the support of the association and charity of some businessmen. Moreover, we are planning to share rice with the poverty-stricken people, “he added.
“Activities of the association are helpful for the needy,” U Zaw Min Latt remarked. “We are glad as we have got constructive opinions.”
U Soe Thein (a volunteer from the team) said that people in the ward cooperated in the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society’s social aid events, such as charity, storm disasters, flooding, and even all the affairs of the mosque.
He said that the sharing of oxygen by the volunteers of the association without discrimination of religions in the third wave when the public is short of oxygen has created interfaith trust and affection.
“When we were distributing oxygen, Buddhist monks were also involved at that time. For the monks, they didn’t have to line up and we respectfully planned for monks in a room to get oxygen,” said U Soe Thein.
He continued that they supported ferries free of charge when the buses stopped running as the gas prices went up, and sold discounted eggs to the public in times of hardship. Furthermore, they provided rice and oil to the widows in the ward and gave frequent donations of meals.
“With the increasing difficulties of people’s daily meals, some families can be seen with no meal for breakfast as well as for dinner. Those kinds of people are abundant in the ward; thus, we are helping them as much as we can, “he said.
Because of the religious inflaming cases in the past, there have been some conflicts in Myanmar, though Nwe Aye Quarter in Dawbon Township has been peaceful and integrated with all religions.
Because our ward has a long history of cooperation, we work on everything together. “And we have no separation and no disintegration of the ward dwellers,” said U Soe Thein.
People of all religions and races in the ward help and volunteer for all the charities of the association, and accept the donations of the association, he said.
“Being known as Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society’s social assistance through social media in times of people’s hardship, I respect the act of assistance for the people regardless of religion to lessen the hardship of the people,” said Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng of St. Francis Xavier’s nunnery in Myitkyina.
She added, “I praise their attitude and take pride in it. Without discrimination of religions, I deeply respect their humanitarian acts, sharing, taking hands together, and encouragement by valuing humans just as humans. “
She continued that we can overcome this catastrophe only by sharing essential people with people through capable religious organizations and charity associations when the public has been suffering various kinds of deep trouble.
“Other religions should imitate this sort of activity, and there have been donators, too. We must take such good action, “said Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng.
“Whatever the situation comes up, whenever people come across hardship, we are ready to help as much as we can to ease the pain of the public,” said Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Masjid Welfare Society.
“We are proud that we can contribute to such social activities in some way.” “In the future, we are going to assist the association happily,” said the volunteers.