The words were posted on the door of Kabob Korner of West Saskatoon, and according to owner Syed Ali, the words quickly established a mission of charity for his business.
Ali said the act of returning it to his customers began a few years ago when he opened Kabob Korner’s Katy location.
“I kept seeing people come in and they didn’t have the money to eat. Then I thought how good it would be to offer free meals to people who are hungry,” Ali said. “They are hungry but they have no money. If they are outside and hungry they can still come in and get the food. It’s just something small. I just thought, ‘What difference can I make?’ And that’s how it all started. “
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Ali said after making the gesture he saw more homeless people approaching. He now makes full meals, including lentil soup, chicken kebab, and homemade naan.
“You can eat here or take away,” said Ali. “We started something a few months ago too. It was once a month to prepare 50 meals for Saskatoon’s homeless people in Saskatoon. I’ll do that on Saturdays.”
Ali shared that right now, amid the pandemic, it is important to do what you have to do to help others. It could be your time, your meal, or just hearing someone else’s story. It doesn’t have to be money.
“Whenever we can contribute something that positively changes society,” said Ali. “Sharing food with other people, money or not, was something that was instilled in me. It came from my family, my mother.”
If people are looking for a free meal, they will be greeted with mutual respect and dignified food upon entering Kabob Korner. Ali states that there is a special button in the cash register that can be used to call the free meal so the kitchen doesn’t know who is getting the food.
“There are so many beautiful people out there. I tell them, ‘Look, it’s not a big deal,'” Ali said. “I haven’t seen more than two or three people a day eating for free. It’s not a big deal for a restaurant to give away that kind of food, especially with the pandemic.”
Ali said that he learned from life that when we give, our hearts are full and happy. It’s not about buying things and consuming.
“We live in a time when we are very self-centered,” said Ali. “We can change it one by one. The big thing is that we somehow change the way we think. That is where human potential lies. We are happiest when we give. I see that collecting and consuming does not make us happy.”
The big picture for Ali is giving something back somehow, no matter how small you think the gesture might be.
“It’s this idea: whatever we do, we can do something for one another, to make a difference, to contribute.”