Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
An old Hindi saying goes ‘Naiki kar, dariya main daal,’ but since the COVID-19 pandemic has turned things around completely, it should rather be, ‘naiki kar, social media pe daal.’
This Hindi idiom roughly translates to being discreet with kindness. For my mother and I, acts of kindness shared via social media platforms helped us raise over Rs 7 lakh during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, all for the purpose of feeding the needy.
My mother, who started a tiffin service in 1999 and a delivery kitchen in 2003 thereafter, was already engaged in providing food to students and working professionals but wondered – what about those less fortunate? We didn’t know how to help.
On 1 May, a Good Samaritan called me and asked to sponsor a food donation drive as he was himself scared to venture outdoors. I posted a few photos and videos of the distribution on my Instagram page the same evening. This struck a cord with the audience.
People started donating money from all over India. In the first two days, we received over Rs 11,000. In 25 days, we had collected Rs 1.5 lakh. In 75 days, we were at Rs 3.7 lakh.
Whenever we felt our funds would exhaust, somehow, we were able to get more donations, as if a divine power was wanting us to continue this noble initiative. Everyday, we used to load containers of food in our car and take it to the nearest gurudwara in Malad area.
In fact, people who were earlier discouraging me from stepping out of the house have now come forward and are extending support to the cause.
Because of these people as well as the power of social media, we have been able to distribute 12,000 meals, 31,000 rotis, and 4,000 sweets in about 120 days.
My mom and I are only a medium through which we can connect donors to the needy. We feel inspired to continue this initiative due to their goodness.
However, it is our own personal history that has become a driving force behind these efforts. We went through a stage in our lives when my mother used to give me two meals a day but she herself used to survive on just one, and chai or biscuit on some days. I had lost my father to an accident and we had no means to sustain ourselves. We had also lost our house and had slept on the streets for a few days.
It was my mother’s resilience and a few good-natured friends who helped her start a home kitchen in 1999. By 2003, we started operating from a small shop near our house, selling thalis and paranthas. At the time, our motto was ‘mom makes, son sells.’ Now, our outlook has changed completely.
From conducting the business from a passively social mindset pre-pandemic to now actively making it a social enterprise, our principle is ‘mom makes, son feeds.’
That is how one-day business-cum-social activity has turned out to be a four-month, ongoing project with no deadline. This has all been possible due to the power of social media and people's trust in us.
We also hope that we can empower the entire supply chain in our business as well. From employing housewives for making sweets to migrant workers who want funds to support their families’ needs, this initiative has become our ‘new normal’.
A lot of people ask me, 'Harsh, when is the last day of this food donation drive?'
Honestly, we don't see this stopping anytime soon, because now it is no more about feeding the needy in the lockdown but a long-term vision for us.
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