Operation Sulaimani: Mission to provide food with dignity

Compassionate Kozhikode, a platform to generate and nurture the spirit of compassion in individuals is founded on a firm faith in the innate goodness in each one of us. It believes that most of the human beings are  compassionate and capable of expressing it when opportunities are made visible. An initiative by the then district collector of Kozhikode, Prasanth Nair IAS, Operation Sulaimani is a tipping point for building a compassionate destination out of Kozhikode.

Operation Sulaimani, named after ’Sulaimani’, a rare blend of tea, lime and warmth ensures that no one in Kozhikode is denied food on account of empty or lost wallet.

This food project run in partnership with Kerala Hotels and Restaurants and public support, launched with the motto to avoid food wastage and to provide free food to the poverty stricken section of the district, also provides food to people in the city who cannot afford food for ‘any reason’. The person could be anyone – a destitute without any money, a student who has lost her lunch box, or a traveller who finds he does not have enough money in his wallet to buy a decent meal. Operation Sulaimani guarantees food without answering any questions or long delays.

“We cannot ask a hungry person to get his hunger attested by a certified gazetted officer! That is why we insist on the philosophy ‘no questions asked’. If you ask for a food coupon, you will get it, it is as dignified as that,” says Prasanth Nair.

If lost in Kozhikode without a penny, all that you need to do is collect a Sulaimani coupon from one of the authorised distribution centres and exchange this for a meal in one of the many hundred partner restaurants. Food coupons are distributed at local village and taluk offices. The collector pointed out that, distributing coupons through the village offices will help keep the alcoholics at bay and solve the problem of identifying the needy. Restaurants offering meal against the Sulaimani coupons get their money reimbursed from an account maintained by the implementing agency.

There exists no big sponsors and nor do the government funds flow in. Small boxes are placed across the city with Operation Sulaimani inscribed on them and nameless donations are made. This money is used to reimburse the meal coupons that are collected at restaurants.

Volunteers of this initiative are not worried about the misuse of this facility instead they are obsessed with reaching the people who are in need and making them aware that food is the last thing that they need to worry about.

Inspired from a movie named Ustad Hotel where the protagonist, a hotel owner in Kozhikode keeps a part of his income to feed the hungry, the spirit of Operation Sulaimani lies in the collective responsibility taken by the people to care for each other. This collective spirit has indeed proved to be powerful by feeding more than 9000 people every year, not running out of funds, proving that  the city’s good spirit will never allow them to run out to.

 

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