It’s been more than 930 days since Mohammed Sujathullah, a 26-year-old pursuing his doctorate in pharmacy from Hyderabad, began serving food to the needy. Serving free breakfast to nearly 1,000 hungry Hyderabadis every day, Sujath hasn’t missed a single day of service. Twice a week, he also distributes dinner to the homeless.
Besides, he also runs a tailoring coaching centre for widows and other women who need an additional source of income.
“While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in 2014, I had failed in one subject. Following this failure, I decided that I would feed ten people. When the results came out the following year, I picked up ten food packets from a hotel, and started distributing it to people on the roadside,” he says, speaking to The Better India.
He continues, “At the time, I saw a man sleeping on the road. This was sometime in December with the winter at its peak. I asked the man if he wanted food, but he told me that he had eaten, and asked me to give the food packet to someone else. My heart melted at hearing this man’s words because here was someone who had nothing, who was sleeping on the streets in the dead of winter, without a sheet to keep him warm, offering his share to someone else.”
After distributing food on the roadside, he had a few packets left, so he walked towards the Secunderabad station where he came across street children pulling his shirt, asking for food.
Sujath had never seen real hunger. He says, “These experiences led me to believe that I wanted to do this work every day because I had never experienced such happiness in my life.”
He eventually asked his friends and family who were working to donate their one day’s salary for this endeavour.
On his first day, he received close to Rs 5,000. The breakfast programme, where he serves upma made with pure ghee and chutney, would run three to four times a week. The food comes from a restaurant in Padma Rao Nagar at a subsidised rate.
To further his work, Sujath started the Humanity First Foundation in 2016. From ten people, he now serves close to 1,000 every day without fail.
He wakes up at 7 am and leaves his home in the Musheerabad area at 7.30 am. He picks up the food from the hotel and reaches the Government Maternity Hospital in Koti by 8 am, serving those who have been standing in a queue, awaiting their appointment.
He goes on to serve breakfast to a few hundred people until about 8.15 am. From there, he makes a trip to Niloufer Hospital.
“In a 15-minute window, I serve close to 300-400 people. Then, I make my way to the Nizam Institute of Medical Science (NIMS) in Punjagutta. We start there by 9 am and finish at 9.15 am. In these 1.5 hours, we carry 25 kg upma, which is distributed to about 1,000 people daily, in bowls and spoons,” claims Sujath.
Per day, this endeavour costs around Rs 5,000, including transportation and cutlery. “Each bowl costs about Rs 5. I spend around Rs 4,200 on food, Rs 300 on cutlery and about Rs 500 for the auto rickshaw,” he informs.
Following this, he eats breakfast and heads to the Aster Prime Hospital in Ameerpet, where he is currently interning. After lunch, he makes his way to a small Urdu-medium school his family runs for 150 children with 12 teachers. He oversees the running of the school from 4.30-6 pm.
His foundation also runs a free Tailoring Coaching Centre for women in Sadasivpet town in neighbouring Sangareddy district, Telangana. The centre’s four-month courses have trained over 500 women. Following Ramadan, however, the foundation will move to Musheerabad.
Cost & Finances
“See, upma is easy to make, and you can serve large quantities under a relatively low budget. With just Rs 1,000, you can serve about 150-200 people. It’s been 930 days since I first started this initiative, ever expanding my area of operations without missing a single day. I serve food to the needy, irrespective of caste, class, gender or religion,” he adds.
Every month, this endeavour costs around Rs 1.5 lakh. This is a 100 per cent charitable endeavour, which runs on donations.
“Fortunately, I have a big joint family to help me. Besides, I regularly reach out to potential donors on social media and conduct crowd-funding campaigns,” he says.
For the son of a retired government teacher and housewife, the motivation comes from a determination to do good.
“Everyone has asked me why I do this work. They advise me to study, find a job, earn some money, retire, and then take up charitable work like this. Nearly 99 per cent of the people who raise such questions believe that I should do this work after retirement,” he says.
His response is simple. “Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow? I could even die, so might as well do some good in the meantime. I cannot wait to serve the hungry until I retire. Moreover, my work with the Foundation has never affected my education or career. I have sacrificed leisure activities throughout the day to make time for this. I don’t go out for movies, don’t waste time with my friends, don’t have any vices, and follow a strict schedule. I have a lot of time for this work, and intend on doing this for a long time,” he concludes.
To know more about the Humanity First Foundation, or to help Sujath in his initiative, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the website.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)