After the wreck of a year that was 2016, I think we all deserve a heartwarming story to kick off 2017. To find that feel-good, inspirational story, we naturally have to go outside of the U.S… and head to Canada.
About four months ago, Montreal restaurant Marché Ferdous started handing out free meals in an effort to feed the homeless. According to reports, the restaurant hands out roughly four or five free meals per day.
The restaurant is co-owned by Iranian immigrant Yahya Hashemi and Iraqi immigrant Ala Amiry, who both feel that giving back and helping others in need simply reflect the Muslim values they were raised with.
“We do not ask any questions, we do not judge people,” Hashemi told Global News. “They want to eat, [we] give them the food. That’s it, that’s all.”
When customer Sean Jalbert heard about the free meals at Marché Ferdous, he decided to go “undercover” to see if the restaurant was more than just talk.
He shared his experience in a Facebook post: “Curious enough I walked in and pretend I had no money and asked for food. She didn't ask anything, but said we welcome you and pick whatever you like, including anything I wanted to drink.”
6. These Muslim Immigrants Have Received Overwhelming Support
Jalbert’s post quickly went viral, because not surprisingly the world is craving stories about good people doing good things, especially in a current political climate where Muslim immigrants face so much backlash and hatred.
Thanks to Jalbert’s post, support and praise started pouring in for the owners of Marché Ferdous.
Jalbert, of course, paid for his meal, because he could. Since the word about Marché Ferdous’ charitable efforts started spreading, many customers have recently started leaving extra money to fund free meals for those in need.
“They come here, they donate $20, $30, $50 and they say, ‘Okay, the next few people are on me’,” Hashemi told CBC News.
“[Iraq] is a beautiful country but there was no freedom, people who spoke out would disappear in the night,” Amiry said. “Then during the war – with the bombs falling over Baghdad – my family, my wife’s family was scared to death. We had no choice we had to leave.”
Because Canada saved Amiry and his family by welcoming them into the country, Amiry feels that it’s only normal to give back.
11. How These Restaurant Owners Are Adding To The Conversation About Immigration
This notion of giving back to one’s new home is actually a very common sentiment among immigrants like Amiry and Hashemi, and their story has already sparked positive discourse about rethinking preconceived notions of people based on their religious or ethnic background.
While the owners of Marché Ferdous feel the need to pay it forward, the restaurant’s chef, Abdelkader Bejaoui, has a much more practical view on the matter. “It doesn’t matter. Because at night, if you still have leftover food, you end up throwing it [out],” he told CTV News. “So why not give it to those in need? It’s not a big deal.”
If you find yourself in Montreal and want to have some delicious chicken shawarma and Middle Eastern delicacies, be sure to make a stop at Marché Ferdous. And, if you’re feeling like making a small, yet significant, positive impact in someone’s life, maybe purchase an extra meal or two for future customers.