You know it’s Christmas when you start to smell the fragrant aroma of roast turkey, hear the cheerful sounds of Christmas carols, or see the smiling faces of happy families. As for me, Christmas reminds me of our beloved Picha chef — Zaza.
If you have been following our story over the past two years, I am sure that you’ve heard of Zaza who passed away in May 2017 due to cancer. We have mentioned this many times — that Zaza wasn’t just a chef in Picha — he was a great friend to us, a great father to his son, a great husband to his wife, and a great soul to the world.
Why Christmas reminds us of Zaza?
Back in 2016, we organised a Christmas open house at Zaza’s place. We had 20 guests that night (which is quite normal) — but we were told that Zaza was sooo busy preparing for the open house, he dnd not sleep for 2 nights!
When we found out about that, we were shocked! “Zaza, why do you need to stay up for two nights to cook for a dinner?”
And guess what was his reply? A simple sentence, “I want to make you proud.”
Zaza wanted to make Picha proud in front of the guests so much that he did not sleep for two nights. When we stepped into his house during the Christmas dinner, we knew exactly why he didn’t sleep.
His tiny little flat was filled with warmth, great hospitality and a crazy amount of food. We were served with rice, chicken, lamb, beef, duck, vege, kebbob, and so much more that when we finished stuffing our tummies to the max, there were still 3 quarters of food left.
That’s not it, he also prepared little boxes of gifts for every single guests, filled with sweet pastries and loads of love.
That Christmas, we knew that Zaza was giving all his heart for Picha.
It’s not hard to understand why we grew so close to Zaza. Despite losing everything that he had in Syria and becoming a refugee, Zaza had never once stopped reaching out to those in need. He hosted the homeless despite not having enough for himself, and thought about giving out food to the poor despite being on the hospital bed.
He always gave us ideas on how Picha can improve and impact more families. He even trained his Syrian neighbours to cook so that they could join Picha too.
Again, that’s not it. Whenever he prepares food for an order, he made sure that he prepares extra to be given out to the security guards, cleaners and also to our Picha Ninjas.
Two weeks before Zaza lost his life to cancer, on the hospital bed, he was still thinking about others. He talked about how he wants to cook Chicken Mandi for people in need around the masjid area during Ramadan once he gets discharged. He also made his wife write down Ramadan menu ideas for Picha to sell during the fasting month.
Since he passed away in May 2017, we made sure to tell the story of this amazing man in every sharing that we have. Even though we only got to spend a year with this amazing man, he has shown us so much generosity and kindness.
His death crushed us into pieces, and we were extremely devastated. It’s hard to believe that this incredible friend of ours is no longer here with us. However, instead of being defeated by his death, we decided to keep his spirit alive by creating a movement after him. Hence, The Zaza Movement was created.
The Zaza Movement?
The Zaza Movement is now a movement where everyone (including YOU) can purchase meals from the Picha families, allowing them to earn a living for themselves. But instead of you having the food, the purchased meals will be given to the communities in need.
This creates a triple impact – where the Picha families get to earn a living, communities in need get a meal, and Picha gets to be in touch with new communities as a business as well.
Since the beginning of The Zaza Movement, we have worked with multiple partners to create a greater impact in remembrance of Zaza. In 2018 alone, we raised RM44,000 to make his wish come true!
The Zaza Movement has distributed thousands of meals to different communities, including:
#1 – HOPE World Wide
For their beneficiaries who receive dry groceries monthly.
#2 – Refugee Learning Centres
For children who do not get to have proper meals and lose focus during class due to hunger
#3 – Pertiwi Soup Kitchen
For communities to have a healthy meal throughout the month to break fast. During the Ramadan month, we joined forces with Pertiwi Soup Kitchen in providing food throughout the whole month to our friends from the PPR community.
#4 – The Zaza Movement with Crowe
We also had big corporations like Crowe; supporting The Zaza Movement! With The Zaza Movement, we were able to feed students from IDEAS Academy for FOUR times in 2018 alone!.
Photo credit: Crowe Malaysia
#5 – The Zaza Movement with B.I.G. @ The Linc
This has gotta be one of the most exciting collaboration yet. We’ve recently brought The Zaza Movement to B.I.G @ the Linc!
We made it easy for you to join this movement. All you have to do is
#1 – Purchase cooking items (rice, oil, red beans and etc) from B.I.G. @ the Linc
#2 – Leave them in the community box prepared near the checkout counter
And that’s it! All cooking items will also be distributed to communities in need 🙂
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Making a difference shouldn’t be a seasonal thing. During Christmas, we tend to feel a lot more generous, wanting to give back and make a change, but shouldn’t we do that all year long?
If Zaza can pour out so much kindness and love to the people around his when he was knocked rock bottom down, I believe that we can do the same and share more kindness to people around us.
We hope to be able to do more in 2019 and we know we can’t do it alone. So, if you are up to any collaborations in making sure more people knows the story of this amazing man and be inspired by his spirit, talk to us and work with us. Let’s together bring The Zaza Movement to the next level so that his legacy stays on.
Merry Christmas, Picha Heroes!
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Our impact partners for making The Zaza Movement possible:
Great Eastern Malaysia
Pertiwi Soup Kitchen
Thanks to you, we are been able to raise RM44,000 to realise Zaza’s wish and we will continue to disburse the meal as we continuously grow Picha.