“As a child, I always thought that our cows were luckier than I was. While I could barely feed myself, they had someone feeding them grass every day. I come from a very poor family and even having two meals a day was a burden. To add to this, our region suffered severe floods in 1994 causing large-scale damage and several deaths. Fortunately, we survived the floods but all our property and harvests were destroyed. Overnight, we had to sell what little we had left in our hometown and move to Nizamabad to find an alternative livelihood. I began to work as a daily wager in hotels, construction sites, and even as a lorry cleaner when I was only 5 years old.
People say there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I found that light in the form of social reformer Shri. Hemalata Lavanam. She was the founder of Samskar Ashram Vidyalayam, an ashram that educates underprivileged children free of cost. One day as I was working at a construction site, a volunteer from the ashram spotted me and took me in. After my higher education, I worked in various odd jobs.
Once my financial situation had stabilized a little, I took up a job in a catering business. It was here that I saw the amount of food that gets wasted every day. When I had just moved to Hyderabad, I remember sleeping on the platform with not a morsel of food in my mouth and a rumbling belly. It was a painfully fresh memory and I knew I had to do everything I could to prevent other children from experiencing the same struggle.
It was this incentive that led me to start an NGO in 2012 called Don’t Waste Food. Along with some friends, I would carry large gunny bags collecting unwanted food from around the city. We would then distribute this food among the underprivileged. What started as a small movement has now gained so much momentum. As of now, with the help of volunteers and donors, we feed almost 1500-2000 people each day.
When I look around and see what we have created now, I know that we are making a difference. That is all that matters, for one less child to go to sleep hungry at night.”