My daily schedule is fully packed. My day begins early in the morning and then it’s almost 11 at night by the time I settle back home. Sometimes I even receive calls past midnight informing me of a hungry family and I hit the road again. Now that Ramadan has begun, it would be a norm for me to work throughout the day without drinking even a drop of water. It’s tough but the joy of knowing that my work is helping people not sleep empty stomach gives me the strength to endure all of it.
I was born and brought up in Bhopal and run a fire extinguisher manufacturing company. I always wanted to do something for my city in return for it being my haven. During the Janta curfew, I along with my good friend, Siraj Khan noticed a huge line outside a politician’s home. We realized that a crowd of such a magnitude could only mean one thing: hunger. That was when we found out that these people from the slums were desperate for food and lived on a cup of tea and biscuits since they did not have a stock of food at home and had no means to pay for some.
The sight of their miserable condition stirred the long-held desire to give back to the society in us. We decided we were going to do something about it. We pooled up our funds and started making food for these hungry people from my home. Initially, we only planned to cover about 60 people but the numbers steadily increased. Soon we started making food for about 400 people. It came to our notice that a lot of women were carrying a baby and then consulted a doctor on what should be the right and balanced food for them. We then made separate kits with nutritious food like jaggery, peanuts, dates, bananas, and oranges for all the pregnant women we identified in our area. We also provide about 500 packets of milk especially for the children below the age of three for their requirements.
With the number increasing, I decided to put together a team of 25 daily wage labourers from these slums themselves who became my absolute point of contact for that area. They are very supportive and dedicated. working throughout the day. All of us practice the utmost hygiene: sanitizing ourselves thoroughly, wearing masks and gloves that we change every day. We divide the teams to take care of a group of houses and our volunteers deliver the packets of food to their houses. We don’t come in direct contact with the people, we knock on the door and leave the food packets at their doorsteps.
I have great support and anchor in my family. My father, especially, takes more interest in my work than I have seen anyone do. He inspects the food and asks the cook to make it in front of him to ensure its quality. All the feedback we have received till now is positive and incredibly heartwarming. We have also recently come up with a new way of ensuring that maximum food is provided to people in need by requesting various houses to make some extra food along with their daily cooking routine for their families to contribute to the people that cannot afford them. This initiative also received a good response, so we are widening our reach. If you’d like to donate anything, be it money or food grains, you can contact us at 8269888415.
Most of the people in these slums don’t even know who is providing food to them. I prefer keeping it that way. Help from a stranger during a crisis always inspires you to be kind to a stranger who is looking for help. We all are dependent on each other for our survival. We can make this world better by just a simple step. It is in these testing times that society needs someone to act up. For people to break the barriers of differences between us, be it economic or social, to contribute towards the greater good of humanity. This thought itself dissolves all the doubt and fatigue within me. And I’m sure it will likewise dissolve the crisis soon as well. Our country will win this war and we will all celebrate it again. Until then, we will have to do our duties as responsible citizens.
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Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
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