As a little girl, I imagined a smooth sailing life with my family and friends. We were a family living in a single room inherited from our grandfather. My father was an auto rickshaw driver, so we could barely make our ends meet for a long time. In the hope to improve our financial condition, my father sold off his auto rickshaw one day and invested in a van with which we would pick and drop kids from Bhatnagar International School. But as luck would have it, he lost that job due to an unfair reason. Just as you see in movies, my father’s failed attempts led him to alcoholism to the point of no return.
There were days when we would starve all day, on some days we were lucky enough to manage chapattis with red chilies to satiate our hunger. Circumstances forced me and my brother to leave school in class 8th and 9th respectively and search for employment. I started working as a receptionist at a trading firm for a salary of Rs.4000. Slowly over the years, our financial situation got better and we could lead a decent life.
I had just finished my 32nd birthday celebrations when I noticed a lump in my breast. I got an appointment in a hospital, where few tests brought out the clear picture in front of me. I got diagnosed with 3rd stage breast cancer. So I thought to myself, “But I am yet to live my life. This can’t be it.” And it wasn’t. The chemotherapies and endless surgeries were extremely daunting, but I held on to hope and tried to live a normal life.
It was during this time when one day I was stuck at a traffic signal and I noticed a bunch of kids begging. I refused to give them money and offered food instead. They agreed and I took them to a restaurant. Due to social stigma, some of the guests at the restaurant left after seeing these kids dining in the same place as them. Disgusted, I sat down with the poor kids and talked to them about their life and how they survive. That afternoon inspired me to do something for these kids, and I started distributing free food to street kids. Initially, I used to cook the meal at home with my mother’s help and distribute it to slums kids. Soon people noticed my persistence in helping these kids and offered support in the form of money or volunteering.
It took 11 months for me to recover from cancer. I carried on the food distribution activities through the toughest of times during my cancer journey. Serving meals to the needy and less privileged gave me strength to overcome these difficult times. I believe I am alive because of the time I spent amongst the people in the slums serving them. I plan to continue doing what I love and keep serving meals to the needy. I started an NGO 'Meals of Happiness Charitable Trust' to be able to serve a lot more people with the help some support.
Till date, we have served more than 20 lakhs fresh and nutritious meals. Today, I am grateful to God for every hurdle life threw in my way. My circumstances transformed me into the woman I am today. I care for the society and wish to eradicate hunger and malnourishment among the slum kids. I have a purpose, and it is this purpose that makes me stronger by the day.
There are still many hungry mouths to feed and my aim is to reach the maximum number of people. There are countless people in Delhi who starve every day, in slums and outside government hospitals. If we can at least serve some of them a healthy meal once in a day then I am sure they could lead a much happier life.
If you can have 3 hot meals a day without worrying about the next, have a bed to sleep in under a concrete roof then you are blessed enough to worry about things beyond your basic necessities. Millions of people in the country struggle each minute to be able to afford just one of the things mentioned above. We are trying to make a difference in the lives of the people who have had to face the worst brunt of the pandemic.
Food is a very important basic necessity for survival and also an emotion. The kind of food that we eat and the way we eat play an important role in determining our mood and productivity for the entire day. In spite of being such an important part of our survival, a nutritious fresh meal remains unaffordable for many. Countless people who survived on daily wages are left hapless, hopeless, and jobless due to the lockdown.
Currently we are feeding 1500+ meals daily to underprivileged people in various localities of Delhi like slums, migrants patients at the hospitals and at other emergency areas. But now are lacking funds. There is transportation cost, logistics, and other basic things other than meal production. We are also setting up a sewing training centre to empower women in slums.
But we cannot do this single-handedly, we need your help. With your humble contributions, we can serve 5000 meals to the needy everyday and ensure they do not go to sleep hungry. Lend us a hand so that at least one less person has to sleep hungry.