LAHORE - Recent visitors to the newly-set up shelter homes in the provincial capital expressed their satisfaction with the arrangements made by the district administration and the free meals offered to those who stay there overnight.

As many as 40,977 guests stayed free of cost at five shelter homes in the city from November 11, 2018 until May 2019. These shelter homes are located at Data Darbar, Badami Bagh Fruit Market, Railway Station, Lorry Adda and Thokar Niaz Beg.

Due to Ramazan, the turnout has decreased and only 262 people stayed at permanent shelter homes -- 118 at Data Darbar, 40 at Badami Bagh, 58 at Railway Station, 21 at Lorry Adda and 35 at Thokhar Niaz Beg.

These shelter homes are providing Sehr and Iftar to people and around 370 people ate Sehri and 375 people Iftar at these shelter homes.

The menu of these shelter homes is not less than any uptown restaurant. Guests are served chicken biryani, mineral water, juice, dates, samosa in Iftar. In Sehri, paratha and omelette is being served.

40,977 people visit five shelter homes in city in six months

At around 6:30pm everyday shelter homes are all set to welcome the homeless people who usually break their fast, offer Maghrib prayers and spend night here.

Only people with national identity cards are accepted into shelter homes. Guards discourage those who come in daily to spend night at shelter homes. Cleanliness measures are in place and security is privately hired at these shelter homes. Police are also deployed for security.

A labourer, Sarfraz Ahmed (65) from Narowal, told The Nation at Data Darbar Shelter Home that he came to Lahore in search of job. “Arrangements here are excellent. I am being treated like a VIP and provided free food and shelter,” he said.

Muhammad Amir (19), a resident of Thalay Kalan Village in Narowal, said he and his uncle have come here to find some work.

Muhammad Bahsir (45), a resident of Bahawalpur, said he came here for his medical tests at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and stayed at Data Darbar Shelter Home. “The sense of security I feel here is tremendously appreciable. I pray this project continues,” he said.

Muhammad Yusaf (44), who hails from Bahawalnagar, says he came to Lahore to see his relative who is undergoing treatment at the Lahore General Hospital. “I have limited budget so I came here at Data Darbar Shelter Home. They just checked my CNIC and let me in. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative is remarkable,” he said.

Muhammad Nazir (61), a resident of Kot Momin in Sargodha District, breaks his fast at Data Darbar Shelter Home. “When I entered, they asked me to submit my lighter and ask me not to smoke inside the building. The system here is first class,” he said.

Nazir has two sons and three daughters and has come to Lahore to find work. He says these shelters would help him survive here until he finds work.

Data Darbar Shelter Home In-charge Hussain Sajid said there was no shortage of donors who wanted to give food, clothes and other things on a daily basis. The spirit of these donors gives us strength to work round the clock for these homeless people.

“We have the capacity to accommodate 144 people. More than 100 people come to our shelter home on a daily basis,” he said.

Hussain Sajid is medical social officer at Nawaz Sharif Hospital Yakki Gate but he is assigned by the district administration to look after the affairs of the shelter home. “Shelter homes are providing relief to the most forgotten and overlooked people of our city,” he said.