When 33-year-old Ashish Sood made his way to Australia from Ludhiana in 2007 on a student visa to study Hospitality and Commercial Cooking with very little money, he was homeless for two weeks living on the streets and sleeping in a park. Life was really hard for the newly-arrived immigrant in Australia.
All Sood ever wanted was to set up his own restaurant, and after struggling for a decade, he has made just about enough to full his dreams. Today, he is the owner of a small takeaway joint called ‘Ginger and Garlic’ in Brisbane which serves Indian food.
However, remembering his struggles as a homeless student, Sood has for the past nine months been serving the remaining curries, samosa, naan, and papadams to the homeless on Adelaide Street in Brisbane CBD, Australia, before closing shop.
“It felt bad to throw all that food every day, but I’m glad that now instead of going into the bin, it [the food] makes a lot of people happy and lets them sleep on a full stomach. We have at least eight to nine homeless people, mostly men, who come to us for food every single night since the past four months. They start lining up outside the restaurant from 8:30 pm onwards, while we only start serving after 10:30 when the restaurant closes,” Sood told the SBS Punjabi publication.
Sood knows all the homeless who come over to his takeaway joint towards the end of business day.
In a conversation with the ABC, he says how paying customers are further encouraging him to continue this service. “People are so happy. They’ve given me thumbs up …they’re helping me to keep doing more. I’m really happy about it. I’m doing my best, that’s all I can do for the homeless people. That makes me feel proud.”
Besides offering food to the homeless, such services also bridge the gap between them and the local community. Establishing such social connections are particularly crucial for homeless persons considering the social stigma they exist under.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)