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 Press release - AMERICAN OIL COMPANY EXXON DOES ITS BIT TO THE MEALS ON WHEELS PROJECT (IFRC)

 Press release date: 09.05.2000

AMERICAN OIL COMPANY EXXON DOES ITS BIT TO THE MEALS ON WHEELS PROJECT

Every Tuesday and Thursday in Sabirabad 25 needy elderly persons wait impatiently for volunteers of Azerbaijan Red Crescents local branch to knock on their doors with a plate of hot meals.

A hot meals helps Vera Lashko, an ethnic Russian, living in Sabirabad all her life not starve to death. A state pension of the former accountant is so small that it can hardly buy her bread.

Im very grateful for meals and the care I receive from the volunteers of the Sabirabad branch of Azerbaijan Red Crescent, Vera says. Tears come to her eyes when asked if she can recall the last time she had fresh meat.

In order to get food donations and funds for the project, the volunteers undertook various initiatives. They set up an information stand in the street leading to the market. They also handed out pamphlets advertising the project as well as the Red Cross/Crescent Movements fundamental principles. Their efforts did not go to waste. The people responded to an appeal for help and started giving meat, onion, potatoes, bread and other cooking ingredients for free.

Latifa Ismailova is one of the volunteers whose contribution to the project is especially valuable. She has been cooking hot meals for needy elderly persons since November 1999. If I didnt enjoy what Im doing, I would not do it, she says feeling shy in front of the camera. In future, volunteers are planning to move an improvised kitchen from the well-cared-for garden of Latifa to permanent premises where hot meals could be cooked.

At first, the meals delivery was difficult. The volunteers had to rent a car to be able to deliver the meals. The situation changed after American oil company Exxon donated a brand new vehicle to the Sabirabad branch of the Azerbaijan Red Crescent. This helps the volunteers save some money and increase the number of beneficiaries.

The volunteers succeeded in implementing the project with very limited means, an important lesson to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society as a whole, helping the most vulnerable people to live through the difficult transition period.



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