KOCHI: A few years ago, when Anooja Bashir, an engineer, was out with her colleagues to discuss daily work reports at a coffee shop on Church Street in Bengaluru, she happened to notice two of her companions pointing towards a boy begging by the road and talking about him. They had noticed that a kind man had offered the boy some snacks which he shared with other children who were also begging close by.
Her colleagues also decided to buy something from the restaurant and give it to him. The boy took the packet of food to where children, women and men were resting a few metres away, divided the food into small portions and distributed it to everyone. The incident prompted Anooja to start a ‘Free Food Campaign’ in Kochi with the aim of feeding more than 100 people a day.
“Besides starting the campaign, I also wanted to create awareness about food scarcity faced by a sizeable population in Kerala. I wanted to do something for those people who were unable to afford even a single meal in a day,” says Anooja. She contacted the Government Medical College, Ernakulam, to start the initiative.
After talking to the medical superintendent, she realised even though there is scarcity of food, financial assistance is a bigger necessity. With the suggestions from experts at the college, she decided to adopt a shelter home in Kochi run by a middle-aged woman. Nearly 500 people without homes or abandoned by relatives found shelter there.
“I realised that feeding the inmates everyday had been challenging for the woman. So, I decided to research more about such places and start a food campaign myself,” she adds. Anooja decided to spend her earnings on preparing food for people who struggle for a meal. With an initial target of 100 food packets everyday, she introduced her food campaign at the basic level through crowdfunding internet platform called ketto.org as www.ketto.org/anoojainitiatives.
“I have received a good response from some people through the platform, they have come forward to help. I want to spread the free food campaign to places such as Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and other cities as well,” says Anooja.