A British grandfather
A British grandfather hopes to share the Christmas spirit feed up to 15,000 refugees per day after converting a bus into a travelling kitchen.
Ghafoor Hussain, from Stockton-on-Tees, spent thousands of pounds to buy and transform the single-decker vehicle into a moving canteen to help people who have fled their countries in hope of a better life in Europe.
More than half a million people have entered Europe this year – the majority by sea, but a large number have also come in across the Balkans.
Mr Hussain plans to take his meals on wheels to Serbia and Macedonia, where he will be joined by a team of volunteers, including local doctors.
The 45-year-old will embark on the journey today – one that will take him away from his family for at least three weeks.
‘About four weeks ago I took a van full of food to the refugees in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia,’ said Mr Hussain.
‘While I was there I discovered that the people were mostly only getting cold meals. ‘I thought there must be something we can do and that’s when I came up with the idea to buy a bus and convert it into a travelling kitchen.’
Mr Hussain then found a suitable bus for sale in Cornwall, and paid over £6,000 to buy it, repair it, and fit it out with stoves.
‘My estimation is if we do continuous cooking, we should feed 8,000 to 10,000 people a day easily,’ said Mr Hussain, who runs M&M Garages, on Snowdon Road, Middlesbrough. ‘We could even get up to 15,000.’
The bus is full of food and resources, but once this runs out money from his Go Fund Me page, which has raised £8,000 in three days, will keep them going.
‘We are taking as much food as we possibly can,’ said Mr Hussain.
‘Then when we run out, the money people have been donating will allow us to buy more out there. ‘I will stay out there for about three weeks if not longer. I will stay until the money runs out.
‘Then when the time comes for me to come back, I am going to try and find a charitable organisation to give the bus to so they can take over from me.’
Mr Hussain added: ‘It will be hard being away from my family during the holiday season but these people need help.’