A man prepares free meals for home-isolated COVID-19 patients in Cairo, Egypt on June 16, 2020. Groups of Egyptian benevolent youths supported by hundreds of volunteers and thousands of followers communicate online and arrange cooking and delivering free meals to home-isolated COVID-19 patients, who are sometimes avoided by restaurant delivery workers. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Groups of Egyptian benevolent youths supported by hundreds of volunteers and thousands of online followers communicate and arrange cooking and delivery of free meals to home-isolated COVID-19 patients, who are often avoided by restaurant delivery workers.

The groups were formed more than two weeks ago on Facebook by a number of friends after they learned that some restaurants were avoiding delivering meals to home-confined COVID-19 patients. The groups operate under the slogan “Initiative of healthy meals for home-isolated coronavirus patients.”

“So far, we’ve delivered over 5,000 meals to more than 1,000 home-confined coronavirus patients. We deliver each patient enough meals for three days,” Anas Hassan, a 29-year-old bank employee and one of the group founders, told Xinhua.

Hassan stressed that the main goal is to show the patients love and care and give them moral support, noting that the group does not accept money donations but it welcomes help with materials and cooking or delivery work.

At her home in downtown Cairo, Somaya el-Asyouty, a housewife who loves cooking, has recently been using her kitchen to voluntarily cook and prepare tens of meals for self-isolated coronavirus patients.

Such initiatives tell patients that they are not alone,” the Egyptian housewife said. “Now I am not worried if I get infected because I know there are caring people who will take care of me as we take care of others,” she added.

In Giza province near the capital Cairo, another group of youths use a room in the ground floor of an old building as a kitchen where they cook and prepare meal boxes to be delivered to COVID-19 patients.

The kitchen room looks like a beehive with Ahmed el-Bardeesy, a 28-year-old volunteer chef, busy with his assistants preparing and arranging the meals on a large table. Each meal consists of rice, a piece of chicken and cooked mixture of vegetables, besides a box of fruits with each.

Bardeesy, having been closing his restaurant in downtown Cairo since the beginning of the crisis, has started the initiative on his Facebook page three weeks ago and it soon got massive positive responses with many people offering donations and help.”I started the kitchen with 30 meals and I had only one assistant and two delivery men.

The next day I had at least five assistants and five delivery men, all are volunteers,” said the volunteer chef, adding excitedly “now we distribute about 120 meals daily.”

Bardeesy has even started to establish the kitchen for one week in each province in rotation to support the home-confined COVID-19 patients there. He is currently in the northern coastal province of Alexandria where he has cooked and delivered at least 100 meals so far.

“We even write an encouraging phrase and attach it with each meal box, such as ‘We love you!’ ‘Get well soon!’ and ‘You are stronger than coronavirus!'” Bardeesy told Xinhua.The kitchen staff sticks to hygiene and precautionary measures such as wearing face masks and gloves and sterilizing their utensils and tools before and after cooking.

gypt has reported 56,809 COVID-19 infections, including 2,278 deaths and 15,133 recoveries as of Tuesday. Medhat Saleh, 31, is one of the volunteer delivery men in Cairo and nearby Giza. Wearing a face masks and a pair of gloves, he sprays his bike with alcoholic disinfectant before he drives to a patient’s home.

“As for how I deliver the meals, either the patient lowers his food basket from his balcony and I put the meal inside, or I leave the meal at the patient’s door,” Saleh said. Saleh cares so much about not making the home-isolated patients feel offended or embarrassed.

Even when he wants to spray his hands with disinfectant after delivery, he does it after he leaves the patient’s place.”I feel very happy when I see happiness on the patient’s faces and make them feel they are not alone,” the volunteer young man told Xinhua.


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