Homelessness is a problem in much of Western society, so much so that those who are suffering can sometimes seem invisible to us. While it’s all too easy to overlook those around us who are in need, one Mediterranean shop in Montreal, Canada has provided a shining example of how to treat our neighbors.
The restaurant in question is Marché Ferdous, a small business owned by Yahya Hashemi and Ala Amiry. The pair put a small sign in their window after noticing how many locals in the area had asked them for change to buy a meal. The sign was printed in English and French, reading: “People with no money welcome to eat for free.”
One local man, Sean Jalbert, decided to put the restaurant to the test. After going in one day and claiming he had no money, Hashemi and Amiry followed through on their promise and provided him with a full feast.
Source: YouTube Screenshot
As it turned out, Jalbert did have the money after all and paid the men for the food, thanking them for their generosity and encouraging them to keep doing the same to others in need. After the meal, Jalbert posted his glowing experience on Facebook so that all his friends could see it. What neither he nor the restaurant expected was for his impromptu review to go viral.
In reaction to all the attention, Hashemi and Amiry said the sign in the window was not a ploy for attention—it was a genuine gesture of aid to those in the area who needed it. “We are next to the church, there [are] a lot of needy people always sitting there,” Hashemi says. Hashemi and Amiry are from Iran and Iraq, respectively, and explained that their Muslim faith taught them to be kind and generous to those who need it the most. As a result of the sign, the pair feed three to five homeless people for free each day.
This story is made more powerful by virtue of its simplicity. Although Hashemi and Amiry are under no obligation to give their food away and cut into their own profits, doing so changes the lives of those around them for the better. Even more inspiring is that paying customers have been so moved by the pair’s generosity that they have begun donating money to the restaurant to keep the practice going.
As of now, there are no plans to stop the free-meals-for-the-needy arrangement. According to the owners, if customers begin to take advantage of their generosity, the profits will have to even themselves out through other customers who pay it forward. In politically divisive times, Hashemi and Amiry’s example is the one we need to remind us that we’re here on Earth to help one another.
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