As Syria is passing through a tough economic crisis, some charity kitchens started working during the holy month of Ramadan to help people save money by offering free meals and food parcels.
At the historic Hamidiyeh souk in the heart of the capital Damascus, volunteers exert big efforts every day to cook meals that are later distributed to the people in need.
These charity kitchens have become a tradition of Ramadan during the 10-year-long war in Syria.
Essam Habbal, the person in charge of the Saed charity group, told Xinhua that this year the donors are taking part in cooking the meals alongside the volunteers, who are mostly young men and women.
Around 5,000 meals are being cooked and distributed every day by Saed, said Habbal, noting that they are still relying on the donations of local communities.
Near the charity kitchen, people were holding buckets and waiting to get meals.
"These meals help people save money for their kids to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr feast which follows Ramadan, and buy new clothes for the occasion or to bring some sweets to celebrate Eid and Ramadan at the same time," he said.
In another area called al-Mazzeh in Damascus, another volunteer group works every day in Ramadan to pack food parcels to distribute to the poor.
However, this year, the situation is different due to the economic crisis and the skyrocketing prices of all commodities.
Saed Abdul-Ghani, one organizer of a charity group named Kuna Wa Sanabqa, which means "We Were and We Still," said their work has dramatically decreased this year due to the lack of donors and the difficulty of securing food items at reasonable prices.
The number of beneficiaries has dropped from 20,000 food parcels distributed every day last year in Ramadan to 1,000 parcels this year.
However, he noted that his group is reaching people in far and poor places that they didn't reach before, such as the formerly rebel-held Ghouta suburb of the capital.
The food parcel they are distributing includes chicken, rice, groats, oil lentils, and sugar.
In Damascus, the Syrian government managed to raise the value of Syrian pound against the U.S. dollar, but such a move didn't affect the prices as most merchants don't trust the stability of the exchange rate.
The western sanctions have also had a big impact on Syria's crumbling economy as such sanctions don't seem to be lifted anytime soon. Xinhua