The smirky little ram gracing billboards across Amman, Jordan is the face of Tkiyet Um Ali, an organization launched in 2006 by Jordan’s Princess Haya Al-Hussein in memory of her mother, the late Queen Alia, who conceived this project to (literally) cater to the needy.
Tkiyet Um Ali is the first project of its kind in the Middle East. Inspired by an Islamic precept to eliminate economic inequality, the group provides food and humanitarian services to Jordan’s poor with particular emphasis on religious feasting. Focused fundraising takes place before the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha (enter the smiling ram).
Donations are collected year-round, but in the run-up to Big Eid, also called the Feast of the Sacrifice, Muslims wishing to forego personal animal sacrifice can make a fixed price donation to the NGO, fulfilling the requirement to provide meat to the poor.
Other groups collect money to purchase and distribute meat to the poorer neighborhoods, but Tkiyet Um Ali has modernized the ancient tradition. Donations can be made by SMS or phone call providing the benefit of anonymity to both the giver and the recipient. Muslims wishing to make zakāt (the obligatory practice of charitable giving) also donate throughout the year. Most support comes from individuals, corporate donations account for less than 10% of total revenues.
The enormous scale of operations results in economies that maximize purchasing power: this group taps into a global supply chain to meet their large scale demand. Animals are purchased from Australian ranchers, processed according to halal criteria and delivered frozen to Jordan for year-round distribution.
Tkiyet Um Ali provides over 400 hot daily meals at their Amman headquarters, each designed to provide 60% of an individual’s daily caloric requirement. They deliver customized food packages containing 22 different foods to at least 4,500 families each month. Nearly 250,000 meals are served annually, including iftar meals during the holy month of Ramadan and special meals during Eid Al Adha.
According to Director General Samer Balkar, there are currently 6,000 families registered with the organization, receiving monthly food parcels at a cost exceeding $700,000 a month.
Balkar said they aim to provide food parcels for 8,200 families by the end of 2013, and raise public awareness on the need to help the underprivileged.