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Grad nourishes workers on the COVID-19 front lines

‘I’m finding a new family to feed,’ says Asma Khan, GrCert 02
May 4, 2020
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By Molly Hamilton

Curry Go Doctors and nurses show up on weekends to pick up Khan’s curries. Photo: Asma Khan

After she learned about the strain health-care workers were under as a result of the novel coronavirus, Asma Khan, GrCert 02, was inspired to get cooking. Delicious curries, to be exact.

“I offered to provide home-cooked curries to a friend’s wife, an emergency-room physician who was going into quarantine from her family,” says Khan. “Eventually I thought, well, curry takes so long. If I’m going to spend the whole day cooking, I might as well cook for more people.”

Khan promptly resuscitated her Facebook page — Curry Go — and wrote a post about her plan to offer free meals to front-line medical staff.

Her inbox was soon flooded with requests. But what surprised Khan the most was the number of people who reached out to volunteer their time.

“They wanted to contribute, they wanted to help out — they even wanted to do my chopping,” says Khan. “I can’t tell you, in a time of crisis, the amount of people who are desperate to help.”

‘Kindness, gratitude and barter’

Since her selfless initiative began in earnest on April 4, Khan has been able to create a project largely sustained by the generous support of volunteers and donors.

Asma Khan, GrCert 02 Asma Khan, GrCert 02

“During this time of COVID-19, it’s so important that we create an economy that’s not running on dollars but on kindness, gratitude and barter,” she says.

Key ingredients required for the nourishing Curry Go meals are donated by L’Epicerie Mile End, a grocery store located on Montreal’s Parc Avenue.

“The owner is such a kind man,” says Khan. “Once a week I go for groceries and he hand-picks the freshest of his organic produce.”

After her run to the grocer, Khan delivers her vegetables to volunteers who duly clean, chop and dice. Khan uses the transformed produce to whip up batches of her curries, which are packaged in containers donated by a local restaurant owner. All of this is done in accordance with proper safety standards; a text-messaging system ensures that weekend pickup times are staggered.

“Picking up my weekly box feels like a hug,” says infectious disease physician Melinh Luong. “It’s a reminder that we should all take care of each other, in our own way.”

Emergency room and palliative care physician Danielle De Jong expresses a similar sentiment.

“On some of my darkest days I leave Asma’s place rejuvenated. I’m floored by the warmth and generosity coming from her home. Her initiative is a reminder of humanity at its best and refuels my heart with hope.”

‘A new family to feed’

Cooking for health-care providers has given Khan some much-needed serenity. In the aftermath of a recent family tragedy — the death of her brother — it’s also served as a welcome distraction.

“It’s helping me deal with my own sense of helplessness,” she says.

The Curry Go effort has also helped foster a sense of community — albeit from a recommended physical distance. This has been therapeutic for the Concordia alumna, whose entire family lives in Pakistan.

Epicerie Mile End Pola (left), owner of L’Epicerie Mile End — the store that donates fresh organic vegetables to Asma for her curries — and his sons.

“I’m finding a very small part of heaven in this darkness,” says Khan. “I don’t have family here, but in this time of need, I’m finding a new family to feed. It’s really, really special.”

Khan has been blown away by the response her donated meals have elicited from hospital staff. One nurse dropped off flowers to show her gratitude and one doctor’s partner gifted Khan with a beautiful handmade flower pot engraved with the word “Canada”.

“I’m at a loss for words to actually tell you what it feels like to receive flowers from a tired nurse,” she says.

Learn more about Asma Khan’s Curry Go initiative.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the well-being of our students — many of whom can no longer afford basic necessities such as rent and groceries. If you can, please consider making a donation.

And if you’re participating in COVID-19 community projects, don’t forget to tell us: socialmedia.alumni@concordia.ca.



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