Feeding the poor is a simple act of love and kindness extolled in most cultures. Michelle Bailey has devised a novel way to make the idea work on a desert island.
How do you feed someone in your neighbourhood who you don’t know? Simply install a free-for-all fridge that is regularly stocked up by other tender hearts.
Launched in Ramadan this year, Michelle Bailey’s Feed the Need initiative has already found around over a 1000 members in Bahrain. More than 50 people have become regular contributors, supplying fridges as well as groceries and other supplies.
“While many of us are privileged to live a good life in this country, it hurts to see poor people foraging in garbage bins for leftover food. Giving someone food is the ultimate gift. What we leave in the fridge effectively becomes the second meal of the day for a poor family or a labourer,” says the consultant, who hails from Australia.
Having grown up in a close-knit community in Balingup, Western Australia, Michelle remembers neighbours who routinely brought food and supplies whenever a family was going through a crisis. She had the first fridge installed at Saar Mall, which sheand friends stock with supplies every other day. At times, she has found workers already queuing up at the fridge, waiting for the food supplies to arrive.
Essential items such as long-life milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, bags of rice, sugar and canned food are preferred donations. People who don’t drive or cannot find time to buy groceries can nominate volunteers, who will shop and fill up the fridge on their behalf. Donor fridges have been installed so far in Muharraq, Janabiya, Seef, Saar, Isa Town, Gufool, Manama, Hamad Town and East Riffa. Two further one will be in Hidd and Amwaj soon. Since some of the appliances are being hosted almost in open air, Michelle welcomes companies and sponsors to build an awning to protect them from harsh weather. Signs in English and Arabic have been installed on all donor fridges, asking people to take no more than two items.
To the cynics who feared that a select few would empty a fridge of its contents, depriving the vast majority in need, Michelle says her objective need not lie in controlling the outcome of the donations made. “So far, the feedback we’ve received indicates the workers are taking just one or two items and have been very grateful for the food offered. Eventually, I’d like to see a fridge in every neighbourhood so that we all become part of a loving community,” she notes. Schools, supermarkets, mosques and residents in every neighbourhood are welcome to host or adopt a fridge. Those who want to donate or volunteer can visit Feed the Need Bahrain on Facebook.