A group of Muslim women has come together and volunteered to help feed Melbourne’s most vulnerable as the city goes to a second COVID-19 lockdown.
Afshan Mantoo, chairperson of Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria Inc. and head of the volunteer group, expressed how she is hoping that the project would help change the attitudes towards Muslim women in Australian society.
“There is a stereotype of women in hijab that they are not doing anything for the community,” Mantoo said in an interview.
“When someone takes food, they say, ‘oh! a Muslim woman is doing something’; it feels good.”
The volunteers, some of them lawyers, teachers and healthcare professionals, cook a variety of meals including chicken korma, rice and lentil soups from a commercial kitchen provided by the Moreland City Council.
To adhere to COVID-19 safety regulations, the volunteers undergo regular temperature checks, wear facemasks, and maintain social distancing to adhere to public health guidelines.
People from all walks of life come to pick up the food the women prepared, served in large packs that can last for up to three days.
“What is special about this effort is that it is not just the Muslims that take food but there are people from all backgrounds including Nepalis, Sikhs, Indians, and Anglo-Australians,” Mantoo said.
“Businesses are closed, there is no work. It is very hard for anyone to survive in the pandemic.”
Melbourne returned to stage three social distancing restrictions on July 8, after the city saw a rise of COVID-19 infections after easing restrictions.
Victoria recorded six new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Monday, adding to the record daily increase of 532 new cases compared with 459 a day earlier.
“Five of those six deaths are connected to outbreaks in aged care,” said state premier Daniel Andrews in a media briefing.