Thursday, February 20, 2020
Maryam Bibi came to Arlington in February, 2019 to help raise funds for girls’ education in Pakistan where she lives. She said it takes about 800 rupees a month, or about 8-10 American dollars, to cover the costs for one student for a month. They currently have over 2,300 students enrolled in the NGO sponsored schools.
While Bibi was in America, she got interested in the efforts of Rock Spring UCC members on little Falls Road in Arlington to serve meals to needy Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) workers at an outdoor pavilion on Four Mile Drive. SEEC helps facilitate employment for day laborers, many without permanent housing or access to regular meals. Rock Spring members cook and serve lunch twice a month to low-income workers waiting for employment.
Bibi became a regular, helping cook and serve meals on the street with Rock Spring members.
At that time, she said that in Pakistan, they have a more hands-off approach to feeding the poor, and she thought she would take the American way back home with her.
In January 2020, nearly a year later, she showed she had indeed taken this social service initiative back to Pakistan. On Feb. 13, 2020 Bibi sent a picture back to Rock Spring of serving a meal to drug addicts on the streets of Peshawar in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border.
“I saw these people who are totally discarded, abandoned and living beneath the construction highway bridge in open on bare ground. The SEEC serving idea clicked and I started serving them,” Bibi said.
Currently Bibi says she buys the ingredients for her beef curry with naan or plow and requests that the lady who helps with her household cook the meal. But she said she is planning to include others, like the SEEC model in Arlington, because “seeing is believing, so I must encourage people to see them so they get inspired and get involved.”
She says she can only afford to do this once a week, which she does on Thursday mornings, with her own resources but would very much like to feed them on a daily basis. “I cannot forget the helplessness in their eyes while they are eating the food.” Bib says she is working to increase cultural understanding. “There is a lot of good in both places.”