Dato’ Syed Azimal Amir Bin Syed Abu Bakar or Azimal, as he is fondly known as, is a lawyer by profession.
However, in 2015, he did something that was totally out of the scope of his career. He initiated a lovely program that goes by the name of Free Food For Ramadhan
As if the name still wasn’t obvious enough, Free Food For Ramadhan is an event whereby they distribute free food everyday throughout the month of Ramadhan. It starts at around 5.30 p.m. and ends when all the food items have been given out.
That usually doesn’t take very long!
Over the years, they have held it at several locations in different states. From Selangor to Seremban to Penang; you name it! However, the ‘original spot’ is at Taman Esplanade, Kuantan. Azimal resides in this town.
In addition, this year in Kuantan itself too, they have another outlet in Kampung Bukit Sekilau. One of Azimal’s friends made the effort to host it there.
Yes, every day throughout this whole month of Ramadhan, they are there to give out free food.
Another friend of Azimal's, who is based in Miri, Sarawak, also has an outlet set up in the Land of the Hornbills – the giveaway there happens only during the weekends though.
Well, here’s the sweet part about the Free Food For Ramadhan initiative – anybody can come and take their share of the variety of food they have to offer. When we say anybody, we mean ANYBODY.
No matter what race or religion you are, don’t hesitate to drop by and take a set of what they have prepared for the day.
“We cater for everyone," Azimal told Rojak Daily
when we contacted him.
According to Azimal, the menu for the giveaway differs almost every day. Each individual is entitled to get a pre-packed set that would include a packet of rice/noodles/porridge, one kuih
and a bottle of mineral water or a variety of flavoured drinks.
Today’s menu may consist of nasi briyani
or mee goreng
or fried macaroni with kuih tepung pelita
as well as fruit juice; tomorrow is almost certainly a different range of choices. Darn, we are drooling already!
It is nice to see that the response has been great. But when you have a large crowd like that, it could go out of control anytime.
To ensure that the situation remains calm, Azimal told us that they would personally hand out the pre-packed food so that everyone would receive them. It was no mean feat, but they usually managed to get the crowd to queue properly.
Azimal also assured us that they do not judge judge the people who turn up to take the food, no matter how many sets of pre-packed food they take.
'You do not need to be rich to be charitable'
When asked what inspired him to initiate such a noble movement, Azimal told us that he wanted to give back to the people.
“I was in Mecca for my Hajj in 2014. During my stay there, I was amazed at how easy it is to be charitable. One does not have to do it on a big scale," he said.
With that, come Ramadan in 2015, he decided to gather a few friends to distribute free food. Back then, he told us that it was done on a small scale as they relied solely on their own pocket money.
And that was something they have no qualms about, using their own money to run this charitable cause.
“One need not be rich to become charitable or to start a charity activity," he reminded us.
Within the two-year span, the group that started off with just six members has grown to 20 committed people.
“When we just started, we distributed only 50 packages of food daily. Now it has grown to 200 packages per day," he said. Impressive indeed!
He is quick to attribute that the positive development is made possible by the contributions from generous and kind-hearted members of the public.
“We have anonymous donors daily who send food to be distributed by us," he said, adding that the publicity they received from the media helped a lot too.
In 2016, they expanded their 'business': they also started giving out pre-loved baju kurung and baju Melayu for free.
“Last year during the last week of Ramadan, we were actually out of funds but we have one more week of Ramadhan to go. So, I decided to amass some pre-loved baju kurung and baju Melayu and gave them to those who need them,” Azimal explained.
Not only that; Azimal and Co. even handed out hampers consisting of food to three churches and a temple that are within the vicinity of Kuantan town that same year.
We asked why they did that.
“There is no reason except that it is done as a kind gesture of goodwill in the spirit of Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri," he answered.
The real spirit of 1Malaysia
Azimal had a lot to share on what he feels was the most memorable event throughout his involvement in this organisation.
He shared a story about one of the crew members who is a father to a disabled child.
“He takes care of the child all by himself.”
Despite the adversity he faces, Azimal told us that this gentleman never fails to volunteer every year for the Free Food For Ramadhan event. It is very touching to learn about how selfless and highly-motivated these people are, to the extent where they are willing to sacrifice their time and put in the effort to contribute to the society.
Besides that, he also revealed that some of the donations they received were from people they have not met before in real life.
According to Azimal, these donations do not only come in monetary form, as there are also those who sponsor the food themselves.
These donations, Azimal added, came from people from all walks of life; doesn't matter if they are rich or poor, or which religion they practice.
What keeps them going
We couldn’t help but wonder what drives Azimal and his group of friends to continue doing this.
It is a tedious task, really. Remember, they’re doing this every evening for 30 days straight! No profit whatsoever is gained. It ain’t easy to sustain and stay consistent in the act.
Well, the answer to that million dollar question is simple yet powerful.
“Humanity," Azimal said. “Lately we seem to be lacking in kindness amongst us. We are too individualistic. We must not forget to be kind to each other".
He also hopes that others would follow suit with a similar activity.
“Collectively, we could achieve a lot of positive activity”, he said. “Let us be kind to each other.
For further information about the Free Food For Ramadhan event, you can check out their Facebook page here