by Hummam Sheikh Ali
DAMASCUS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- While people in the Syrian capital Damascus got used to countless military checkpoints demanding IDs and checking their cars, some volunteers decided to create checkpoints of "love in Ramadan."
Throughout the country's six-year-old war, checkpoints of the military forces and security apparatus mushroomed across the country to maintain the security of the government-controlled areas.
However, many people, mainly in Damascus, complain about the traffic jam caused by such checkpoints, or the tedious scrutinizing of IDs in search of draft dodgers.
But some volunteers decided to get a positive inspiration from the military checkpoints and create similar checkpoints.
These new checkpoints give people food and drinks at time of the Ramadan Iftar meal during the most important month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan, for Muslims to express their faith through good deeds, fasting from dawn to dusk.
"The Ramadan checkpoint is an idea inspired by the crisis so this checkpoint is not for stopping people to check their identifications and secure the situation in the country, but it's a checkpoint of love, this checkpoint is to distribute beverages and dates to the people on streets at the time of Iftar," said Saed Abdul-Ghani, the planner of the initiative, as he was manning one of these checkpoints in Damascus' Mazzeh neighborhood.
The passersby and those driving at the time of the Ramadan iftar, or the breakfast, welcome this initiative.
Muhammad, a driver, said the idea reminds people of the old traditions of Ramadan to prepare food and stand at the streets' corners to give all kinds of people food at iftar time.
"The idea is very good and it's a very nice gesture as well as being a reminder of the old traditions of Ramadan," he said.
Taim Salem, another driver, jokingly said he favors this checkpoint more than the regular ones.
"I think it's a lovely checkpoint, instead of asking for IDs or the military cards, they are giving us food and drinks, I like it more," he said, with a grin.
Abdul-Ghani's original initiative, called Bread Crumbs, has been dragging on for several Ramadans during the crisis but it was only confined to bringing volunteers and securing donors of food items to prepare the iftar meals for those in need, but this year he started the "Ramadan checkpoint" idea.
They prepare food throughout the day, and then charities would come to their location to collect the meals and distribute them to the poor and displaced people at the time of iftar at sunset.
Moreover, the Ramadan checkpoint is not only for the poor, but all passersby during the iftar time, and they only offer beverages and dates.
"We have 1,350 volunteers in this initiative, we make between 10,000 and 30,000 Iftar meals a day all according to the available resources. Our campaign relies largely on the donations of food stuffs," Abdul-Ghani said.
Most of the volunteers are young people who feel that they need to play a positive role in helping people in their country.
"There are plenty of people in our country who are unable to provide proper food for themselves or their families. Many of them haven't eaten meat or chicken for a very long time and that's why we are here to help them," said Sara Ashur, a volunteer, while preparing the food.