Few months back I started an initiative called SANED – the closest word in English to it would be “Support”.
The idea came to me that I would like to cook meals and distribute them to those in need. I started slowly with 10 meals, then 20 then reached 60 meals per day. I was buying the goods, cooking, packing and later distributing in the streets of Cairo.
Eventually I decided to head with the hot meals to pubic hospitals and distribute the them to the families of patients stranded in the streets waiting for their beloved ones to finish a procedure.
Surprised I was that many take the streets for their home during the stay of the patient in the hospital. I found elderly, women with their toddlers and men sitting patiently in front of buildings for hours with no end. Soon I decided to focus on public hospitals and I tried going in front of a few for several weeks.
I noticed the children looking bored and hungry. I decided that the hot adult meals weren’t very suitable for them. So I made them a breakfast or snack meal instead – the same you would give your child when going to school. I asked my children to look for small toys in their rooms to include with the meals. Soon enough with the help of their friends, we had our own SANED happy meal that made hundreds of kids happy.
Eventually, my family, friends and neighbors learned about what I am doing and they wanted to help.
I decided to create SANED with a tag line that roughly translates to “so that no one sleeps hungry” and created a profile for it on social media. Soon enough I started to receive endless phone calls from then strangers who were touched by the initiative and wanted to offer a hand.
In less than a month we became 287 active volunteers who work in transparency and cooperation towards helping patients and their families in public hospitals.
Word of mouth spread fast, and I got connected to the administration of hospitals and they allowed me to distribute inside outpatient clinics. emergency rooms and day clinics equally for children and adults. I reached a public cancer hospital, and I designed a healthy meal and a snack for the patients baring in mind what they can and cannot eat. The feedback was heartwarming.
Our combined efforts in SANED allowed us to cook over 400 meals per day (we distribute once a week till now). We have served 1861 meals in the last month to sick children, cancer patients and their families. We have also managed to buy more than 500 new winter outfits for sick children and their mothers.
On a mental health perspective, I see that SANED has many benefits. For one, it offers a channel to people to think of other problems but their own. In this sense, it is therapeutic to be involved in a greater cause that only brings positive energy.
SANED presents members with a sense of fulfillment due to its altruistic mission. It gives a sense of belonging to a larger community and makes one feel valuable. The experience of getting in contact with the less privileged is very tough especially when they are children as young as 50 days and as chronically sick. Yet, the fact that we bring a smile to their faces makes it tolerable and repeatable.
I was feeling quite down right before I started SANED. I had then decided to reduce my levothyroxine dose that I take for my bipolar disorder. I was left depleted with rapid negative thoughts for 48 hours until I upped the dose again. I was very angry yet I decided to make myself aware of my size in this universe.
Once I broke the barrier, sought out the outer world and decided to see what it is like to be in pain without any means to resolve it, my own problems disappeared. I always knew that the world does not revolve around me, but seeing is believing.
It was an eye opener for me to be able to land a hand to others who are suffering. It was relieving to be able to make a small difference. It was thrilling to see someone smile when offered something with love. It was enlightening that there is always something to offer others even if it is just a smile.
All negativity transformed into finding solutions to challenges I see on weekly basis. I have no time to feel pity for myself or answer existential questions that haunt me since the beginning of dawn. I am busy being part of a larger cause, a cause dear to my heart and harmonious to my values. On a very selfish level, SANED makes me feel productive, useful, positive, connected and alive.
There is this quote that says “when one gives, two get happy “ by Amit Kalantri and he couldn’t have said it better.
I urge everyone to try and transcend this sense of self that is so focused inwards. I urge you to look outside and find others whom you can help. There is always something do no matter how small it is and it will help you reset your perspective and make you evaluate your situation more positively.
Thank you for reading. You can follow SANED on instagram through this link https://www.instagram.com/saned_initiative/