Amid COVID-19 pandemic, charity began from home for Lucknow NGO

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Lucknow, May 23 (PTI) The community kitchen operated by Dr Akhilesh Das Foundation is an example of charity beginning at home, and then gradually expanding to lend a helping hand to others.

According to Viraj Sagar Das, the chairman of the foundation named after the former Union minister, the idea of starting the community kitchen came to him when he began sending food to his uncle and aunt, after they got infected with COVID-19.

'It was around April 12, the death anniversary of my father Akhilesh Das, that the community kitchen started its operation. The idea to start it came as we were sending food to my 'taau' and 'taai', both of whom had tested positive for COVID-19 infection and were living alone,' he told PTI.

'We thought that if my uncle and aunt are facing this problem, there would be many people in the city dealing with the same issue,' Das said.

'Initially, we were sending 50 'thaalis' (food plates) of lunch and dinner per day. But, as of now, we are sending as many as 500 'thaalis' of lunch and dinner every single day. This is free of cost,' he added.

Das also informed that the foundation provides free ambulances services, thereby helping people save precious time and money.

Apart from this, the foundation has distributed rations among the poor, and masks and sanitisers to close to 5,000 police personnel, he added.

Rajesh Srivastava, who works at a private dental college in Lucknow, said he benefitted from the service provided by the NGO.

'For three days, we availed the 'thaali' service of Dr Akhilesh Das Foundation as I and my wife were recovering from COVID-19. My wife was feeling weak, and was unable to cook. At that point of time, the 'thaali' service proved to be quite helpful,' Srivastava said.

Amit Saxena and his wife contracted COVID-19 in the first week of May. He said the 'thaali' service proved to be a great help as they were unable to cook for themselves.

'The thaali service proved to be tremendously helpful, and we are still continuing with it,' he added.

Meanwhile, the Lucknow Development Authority is also starting a community kitchen from May 24 to provide free food to the attendants of COVID-19 patients, an official statement said here.

UP Law Minister and MLA from Lucknow Central Brajesh Pathak informed that a community kitchen named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee --- Atal Bhojnalaya --- has commenced operations on Friday, and it will provide free food to the needy twice in a day.

Pathak said the 'bhojnalaya' will benefit daily wage labourers, rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, cart vendors and others.

Similarly, a Marwari community kitchen is being run by the Agarwal Samaj at the Maharaja Agrasen Public School to provide food to COVID-19-infected people and their attendants since May 7. PTI NAV IJT

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