Food bank volunteerism making a difference in the community

They had been operating the food bank for a while now but there’s still a lot of people who don’t know them or what they are all about. Of those they deal with on a daily basis, they are known for their efficiency and at the core of it all, their willingness and passion for helping.Ata Taawon Volunteerism Group is comprised of everyday men and women who would like to give back to the community through the spirit of volunteerism.
All over the country primarily in Muscat, big events like wedding and corporate functions are usually heavily laden with food and organisers of these events stay in touch with Ata Taawon volunteers to handle their excess food. The minute the team receives the call, they rush to the location and transport the food carefully back to their centre and repack it to distribute to the needy.  If the food is not edible or has expired, then they freeze it.  The food, after its dried, is given to farmers who have poultry and livestock. This ensures that no food is wasted.
Headquartered in Seeb, the team has a very active role in the community. Other than the food bank,  the centre brings experts to train women in the community to empower them with various skills that could aid them to be self-reliant. During summer, they organise camps for children to spend their holidays fruitfully.  “They are taught crafts as well as the concept of recycling.  They also have Quran classes and are also taken for picnics around the Muscat area.  They even have courses in presentations and are given certificates at the end of the season,” said Thurkiya Sulaiman al Zadjali, head of the voluntary group.
“The food bank is very useful and various organizations and individuals in society take it as a very serious initiative.  We also encourage and train ladies to develop their own poultry farms so the excess food is never wasted,” she added.
The ladies, meanwhile, have workshops ranging from textile designing, tailoring classes, embroidery, preparation of jams, distilling frankincense for its essence, Luban water and extracting frankincense oil, making of bakhoor, soaps, stitching of Omani Khuma, pottery and even classes to qualify to become makeup artists.  The centre participates in many events and their contribution has also been recognised by many organizations.
The women have the opportunity to use the centre not just as a training base alone but can use facilities such as computers and printers.  The products made by women and children are displayed.  Their wish is to let these products reach the mainstream although they do participate in exhibitions.
The voluntary group has two major events in the year and they are during Ramadhan and Oman’s National Day.  “For these two events, we receive different types of donations from the companies and they bring it to the headquarters and display them – it could be eatables or actual gifts.  The families who are underprivileged and have the cards are invited to choose whatever they need from the collection on display,” explained Thurkiya.