with India wasting food amounting $14 billion every year, 194 million Indians go hungry annually, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
While it may still take some time for each Indian to realise the sin we commit every time we throw away perfectly good food instead of offering it to the needy, a food delivery guy from the humble streets of Dum Dum Cantonment of North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, is already doing his bit.
Fondly known as ‘Roll Kaku’ (uncle) among a group of street children, Pathikrit Saha is showing how one good deed can bring a significant difference in the society.
As per the Zomato policy, if the customer cancels the order once it is en route, then the food can either be taken home by the delivery executive or can be given to the poor. Pathikrit chooses to do the latter.
Speaking to The Better India, he says,
There are thousands of children who do not even get one meal a day. These children either remain malnourished or resort to drugs to end their hunger. It is our moral responsibility to make sure neither of the things happen. I am fortunate to be getting a chance to feed them through my profession.
Though Pathikrit has always been compassionate towards the underprivileged, it was an incident that occurred four years ago which made him change his outlook and approach.
I was passing by the Dum Dum Cantonment railway station when Poltu (name changed), a child beggar, started asking me for money. I tried to ignore the 6-year-old but he kept saying that his mother will throw him out of the house if he didn’t place a few bucks in her hand. That incident made me realise the plight of the poor, especially children, recalls Pathikrit.
Since that incident, he has been redistributing the waste or leftover food to the kids. The 26-year-old has also tied up with a restaurant in Dum Dum and picks up all the leftover food and gives to the kids.
From lip-smacking biryani, chinese food, delicious rolls to fried rice, around 30 children, most of whom are beggars, get food almost every day.
Seeing his efforts, around five of his peers have also joined his mission. Whenever their orders get cancelled, Pathikrit collects them and gives them to the kids.
Pathikrit also runs informal educational classes for these kids, “When I got to know Poltu’s story, I met his friends who were in the same situation. Their parents were least interested in giving them a secured future. Some of them slept in railway stations, some were involved in petty crimes and some even resorted to drugs.”
To help these kids, he started Help Foundation and officially registered it as an NGO. With the help of a few friends, Pathikrit started taking evening classes on the platform of a railway station.
Giving them food or money would mean charity that would make them dependent on me. That is not my purpose. I want them to decide their own future and education plays an important role. Thus, with one plastic mat and three children, I started the school. It now has around 30 children from the locality, he says.
In a classic example of one good turn deserves another, a few days after the classes began, the Auto Union of the city saw Pathikrit teaching the kids amidst the train noises. They gave him space in their office balcony.
Knowing that evening classes is only a beginning, Pathikrit started working towards enrolling the children in a government school. He started spreading awareness about them and requested donations for stationery, books, bags, uniforms and so on.
He posted the request on Facebook and also visited every house in the nearby locality and, luckily, received a positive response. Today, 21 children who were once begging for food and money, are now studying in government schools.
For Pathikrit’s heartwarming gestures and noble efforts, we, at The Better India, salute him.
To help Pathikrit and his foundation, you can contact him at 9804788406/9123348301.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)