On the 24th of March 2020, India’s Prime Minister, Shri Narenda Modi announced a nationwide lockdown. Rakesh Sharma, amongst millions of others was watching the news, but contrary to most, Sharma began to think about how he could help the most at-risk sections of Indian society. The daily wage workers and migrant labourers who earn their livelihood by working in overcrowded cities suddenly found themselves with no income for the foreseeable future and far away from their home villages. While the government promised to feed them and provide shelter, Rakesh was thinking of ways to make meaningful contributions to his community.
Sharma, already experienced in non-profit humanitarian work, had previously distributed blankets to the needy in the winter, and donated dry rations and clothes to low-income families. This time, he decided to set up a small kitchen in his basement and started to cook warm meals for the workers stranded in Delhi and far away from their families. Despite not being wealthy, Sharma is rich in compassion - he started this small campaign by purchasing dry rations with his own savings to start cooking and delivering meals himself for lunch and dinner to approximately 200 workers and labourers a day. His initiative inspired friends to lend a hand in cooking the meals, and fellow residents of Delhi soon followed and came together to support his cause. He quickly received dry rations such as bread, atta, rice, dal, sugar etc while some contributed
Following the influx of positive responses, Rakesh escalated his operation to feed 500 workers both lunch and dinner every day. He credits positive affirmations for boosting his confidence and belief in his own abilities. Not only does he provide two meals a day, but likes to serve different meals- for instance, dal and rice for lunch, and vegetables with chapati for dinner. As his operation is run out of his own home, he thanks the women who have space to prepare the chapatis in their homes and bring them to him for distribution. He also thanks the strong network of helpful volunteers around him that support his initiative.
In addition to his meals, he spreads awareness about the effects of the virus and how it can be transmitted. He adheres to strict hygiene rules when delivering the meals by wearing a mask, gloves, using a sanitizer, and maintaining social distance. His campaign has now been running for over a month, he started his efforts on the 25th of March, and continues his work today.
Rakesh Sharma is an inspiring example of the power of individual will and action. His motivation to help others is a quality we should all aspire to cultivate in ourselves.