In Vadookara, Thrissur district, Kerala, every day from noon until 2 PM, a defunct bus shelter sees a steady stream of the homeless, sitting and eating food being served by a group of friends.
Jaison and his wife Binu Mariya, Sreejith—an auto driver, Shine James—an ex-bus driver, V A Ismail—a workshop worker and two Remyas, one a housewife and the other a teacher have been providing hygienic food to street dwellers for two years.
“I am inspired by Mother Theresa’s work,” says 37-year-old Jaison Paul, the man behind this initiative.
On an average between 175 to 200 people come to have food at the bus shelter daily. The team of volunteers come together near Paul’s residence and prepares the food every day barring Sunday. The team’s main focus is on delivering hygienic, quality meals to the underprivileged.
“I started an organisation—Mother Janaseva Charitable Trust in January 2018. Until then we were involved in various social activities but were not formally part of any group or organisation. Up until then, a few like-minded friends and I were discussing the possibility of doing something for those in need,” he adds.
Paul is a fruit seller and manages to keep aside some of the money for this initiative, showing us that if you truly want to bring a change, you will always find a way. “We started by collecting and donating old clothes, organising and being part of blood donation camps, providing financial assistance to deserving and meritorious students etc,” informs Paul.
The idea of providing home-cooked meals to to the needy struck the group during one of the discussions and they started off with ‘puzhukku’, rice porridge.
From the moment they saw more people lining up for food, they scaled up their operations. “Now, we have two meal options – vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We serve rice, sambar, a fish curry, vegetables, pickle, and salad.”
The Operation in Kerala
Paul informs that if the vegetarian meal costs Rs 5,000 and a non-vegetarian costs Rs 6,000 per month.
The organisation receives contributions but they vary month to month. Many donors sponsor a complete meal for the day either vegetarian or non vegetarian. The Trust also accepts donations in kind, like vegetables, cereals, rice – one can donate anything that they chose to.
“There are many people who want to make a difference but simply do not have the time to do anything. For all of them we act as a medium by doing the work,” smiles Paul.
The team has also set up two tables and six chairs at the bus shelter.
What’s amazing is how neat this entire process is – even after the meal is served, the team ensures that no food is wasted. Food is usually served on banana leaves and then the team collects everything and deposits it into the garbage pits near Paul’s home.
Paul also shares that they are now collecting leftover food from big functions and weddings.
We often lament about the problems around us. But, very few of us actually do something about it. Jaison Paul and his team are the few proactive people bringing a difference in people’s lives.
In case you live in the vicinity and have leftover food that you would like to donate, you can contact Jaison Paul and his team at +91-7025907269.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)