China / World

Street food stands become charity project for Ramadan

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-22 07:37

CAIRO - It is after midnight at a main street in the classy Heliopolis suburb of Egypt's capital Cairo, when a crowd gathers around a food stand on a sidewalk.

They are attracted to the "Bean Cart", a small street food stand that serves the traditional pre-fasting meal, known as Suhur, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Although bean carts are popular in Egypt during Ramadan, this one is unique as it is operated by a group of highly educated young Egyptians, who hope to use part of the revenues for charitable activities.

"The main purpose of starting this project is charity," said Hussein Hamza, 30, co-founder of the project.

The group only work during Ramadan and use about one third of the revenues "to bail out debtors, provide food meals for the poor, help with expenses of orphan marriages, pay for expensive surgeries," Hamza said.

Together with his brother Abdel-Aziz, or Zizo, Hamza started the project last year. Zizo runs another food stand a few kilometers away.

Under the motto "Eat what you can, pay what you can," the brothers set relatively lower prices for the food they sold last year. But the skyrocketing costs of ingredients forced them to raise the prices to ensure the 30-day project can generate enough revenues to help as many poor and needy people as they can.

The Bean Cart, lit by a line of bulbs and decorated by a curtain of colorful, ornamented plastic pieces, looks like a bright spot at the dark sidewalk adjacent to the wall of Lycee Francais School.

The traditional suhur in Egypt mostly consists of fava beans, mashed or fried beans, as well as eggs, cheese, yogurt and salad.

Traditionally, bean cart workers are mostly uneducated. But this is not the case with Bean Cart staff members, as they have well-paid jobs during the day and only come out at night to help with the charitable project.

The members of the group include a pharmacist, an accountant, a swimming trainer, an engineer, a lawyer, among others.

Abdel-Rahman Mohamed Anwar, a high school student, said: "I have just learned about their charitable ideas, and I will urge all my friends to come and have their suhur here."


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