Maldon Spice and Sark restaurant owners rebuild more than 200 homes in Bangladesh through ‘Food for Floods’ campaign

By Ben Shahrabi

31st Aug 2022 | Local News

Sami Barli and Abdul Hafiz presented the cheque at Sami's new restaurant, Paparazzi, which is set to open in October.
Sami Barli and Abdul Hafiz presented the cheque at Sami's new restaurant, Paparazzi, which is set to open in October.

Two Maldon restaurant owners have helped to rebuild 239 homes in Bangladesh after raising £9,526.85 for flood victims, thanks to donations from the public.

Former Town Mayor Abdul "Jhual" Hafiz, who owns Maldon Spice, and Sark restaurant owner Sami Barli teamed up to support the victims of record-breaking floods in Bangladesh in June.

Together, they organised the repair of 239 houses in 42 villages in Sylhet, Bangladesh, completely rebuilding one home 'from scratch'. They thanked the public for the 'massive' achievement.

Jhual told Nub News: "There are 239 families who now have a home to live in.

"It was an impossible task to complete which became possible thanks to donations from the people of Maldon and local businesses."

Paparazzi, owned by Sami Barli, donated £900 to the cause. (Photo: Ben Shahrabi)

The former mayor says emergency shelters opened to help the 7.3 million flood victims have become overwhelmed, so families are "living on the highway with their pets".

Maldon residents continued to donate to the cause following a charity meal in July. Some donated as much as £400, while one family donated £700.

The appeal also received a £900 boost from Paparazzi, a new restaurant set to open in the former Prezzo building in Maldon High Street this October.

Coupled with smaller donations from the public, the appeal soon reached more than £9,000. In Bangladeshi Taka, that amount is equivalent to 124,333.98 Tk.

At one house their team visited, all that was left of it was a leaking roof, as the walls had been destroyed.

Jhual said: "She put sandbags on the sides, to stop the water getting into the house.

"I asked brother Sami and some of my friends to donate more money so we could get it rebuilt."

During the charity meal at Sark, Ayna News provided a live broadcast from Bangladesh, showing the impact of the floods.

A water pump has been installed to serve eight houses, along with workers on the nearby rice fields.

Sami Barli personally delivered the first lot of donations, totalling £6,280, a few weeks ago.

He told Nub News: "People have no houses – they've got nowhere to live."

Sami recalled snakes even being driven into some people's homes, as it was so wet outside.

Jhual and Sami are collaborating with Bangla media organisation Ayna News, to broadcast the effort live on the Maldon Spice Facebook page and in Sark Restaurant next week. They will speak to local leaders about the work being done in Bangladesh.

The pair had initially planned to rebuild 42 houses, but soon exceeded their aim once donations reached £5,000. (Photo: Ben Shahrabi)

The pair also expressed concern about the devastating floods in Pakistan recently, which have left more than 1,000 people dead and 1,600 injured.

Donations for the Food for Floods appeal are no longer being collected, as the fundraising aspect of the campaign has now ended.


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