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Allama Iqbal
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Khana Ghar: 3 Rupay ki Roti

Monday, March 02, 2020

A woman kills her children

Parveen Saeed is saddened to read the news of a poverty stricken woman who killed her children. She goes out and meets the woman.

“Why?”, inquires Parveen. “How could a mother kill her own, innocent children?”

“If you had starving children but no resources to feed, you would do the same” replied the woman.

The fight against hunger begins

The dialog left an intense impression on Parveen, making her recognize the level of desperation and devastation caused by poverty and hunger. She resolved to do something about it. She started to cook a few extra meals at home for the needy. But the urge within was too intense to be quenched by such a humble act.

Khana Ghar is set up

Parveen seeks support from her friends and family and sets up a Khana Ghar in January 2002 - a public kitchen (or literally, a “food house”). With encouragement and backing of her family and friends, she strives to make the initiative a success and help the needy as much as possible. Khana Ghar is first established in Surjani Town, but then shifted to Khuda ki Basti to provide for the labourers and other low income families in the vicinity.

3 rupay ki roti

Unlike most philanthropic souls or setups, Parveen has a different approach in mind. She does not want to give food for free. Firstly, because she does not want the needy to feel like beggars. They also have self-esteem which should be respected and not hurt. And also, she does not want them to take the service for granted. So the price of a meal is set at Rs. 3 (curry and roti included). Of course, this is merely token money, and nowhere near the actual cost. The menu changes on day to day basis and includes: lentils, vegetables, chickpeas (chanay), kurhi and meat, served with roti or rice.

Trust and goodwill

The Khana Ghar model is founded on trust and goodwill. People are assumed to be needy and trustworthy. Khana Ghar also serves as a takeaway. You can take the meal back home. Or better, you can get the meal for the entire family – as many curries and rotis as you like; and money is not an issue. That’s because accounting at Khana Ghar is not based on standard accounting principles but on basic human need.

Khana Ghar takes root

With the passage of time, more and more people start to visit and enjoy a satisfying meal – elderly people, widows, orphans and workers etc. On the other hand, increasing reputation and activity at Khana Ghar also attracts patrons and supporters who happily finance the growing operation.

To scale up the operation, additional staff is hired for cooking, logistics and overall administration of the operation. Parveen prefers hiring over volunteering, as the former generates employment. And it’s far better to employ than giving alms.

Khana Ghar now opens multiple kitchens and pickup points and reaches out to other poor communities to deliver food. Around 5,000 people are fed each day by the initiative of a lady who had never anticipated achieving such a success and fame.

Parveen’s Advice

“Look around and see who needs help. It’s not important that I am made part of it; do it for whomever you like to help.”


  1. Khana Ghar
  2. Newsline - Interview: Parveen Saeed, Founder of Khana Ghar
  3. Gulf News - Karachi: Woman feeds 1,000 people every day
  4. Tribune - Khana Ghar: Rs. 3 for a square meal
  5. Sama TV - Karachi ki Khuda ki Basti mein Khana Ghar
  6. BBC News - Parveen Saeed's quest to feed the poor in Karachi
  7. Short documentary, Khana Ghar

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