In the midst of industrialists, corporate houses, actors, entrepreneurs and the rich who contribute massive amounts of money to support people in times of coronavirus pandemic, a railway employee reveals that he is still caring-and proves it.
Khushroo Poacha, a Central Railway (CR) Commercial Department Superintendent in Nagpur, has reached a successful policy of feeding thousands-even without using an NGO, donations or even opening a bank account.
Through social media, the Parsi with a generous soul uses his goodwill, personal and professional connections to collect food and support for thousands of poor and needy in India from caring people all over the world.
He has managed to collect food and aid materials worth more than Rs 4 million in the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has helped more than 6,000 people, in addition to two tons of rice to feed more than 60,000 needy.
ADVERTISEMENT Responding to an SOS by Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission President Kishore Tiwari on Monday itself, he immediately dispatched a truckload of dry-food packets to support nearly 550 farmers ‘widows and their families over the next 10 days.
“Luckily, I had the material ready. We’ll be sending more assistance as needed after 10 days, depending on the situation,” a smiling Poacha said.
With the ongoing pandemic relief work, Poacha deploys aid requests through a series of WhatsApp Groups and its websites, www.sevakitchen.org and www.indianblooddonors.com, as well as applications, which are backed up by www.donatekart.com, which allows him to fulfil all his needs.
“Requests go through www.donatekart.com and donors make their donations that are redirected to my supplier from where I pick up the necessary material. At every point there is no monetary involvement,” he explained.
“We’ve set up 21 Seva kitchens in India, mostly in cancer or children’s hospitals or schools where people can get completely free healthy, nutritious food. In addition, we’ve built ‘Neki Ka Pitara’ (Fridge of Kindness) for the poor and needy at these locations,” Poacha said.
The Seva Kitchens are currently operating in Nagpur (9), Hyderabad (4), one each in Bengaluru, Palwal (Haryana), Sawantwadi, Thane, Navi Mumbai (all in Maharashtra), each serving about 3,000 meals daily and ‘Neki Ka Pitara.’
He mentions a Seva Kitchen in Guldasta College, Sarita Vihar Colony in New Delhi, manned sprightly by a ’80-year-old’ Vimla Kaul, with pride.
“My volunteers, a devoted band of around 1,000, regularly sustain an uninterrupted flow of supplies to the poor, irrespective of area, caste, faith, etc. Most importantly, both ways remain anonymous-we don’t know who is a beneficiary and they don’t know by whose benevolence,” Poacha said.
Once he lost his father at the age of 16, Poacha ‘suddenly grew up in life,’ taking up a clerical job with Indian Railways at the age of 18, watching others eke out a near-starvation existence or dying people only because they couldn’t get blood on time.
He pioneered India’s blood donor list through his website almost twenty years ago, and has since been instrumental in saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
During the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, he called up a private TV channel when there was blood shortage for the victims and asked them to run his website name www.indianblooddonors.com on their ticker.
“It received a huge response and a few months later we were covered by BBC News,” he said pridefully.
Now, the 53-year Poacha is linked to major social groups and organisations like Sant Nirankari Seva Dal, with his wife Fermin and 7-year-old daughter Tunisha, “who work quietly, without caring about any advertising or photo-ops” to support the poor.
“At the height of the lockdown, my devoted band of volunteers reaches anywhere with food packs, cooked meals or replenishments for the round-the-clock ‘Neki Ka Pitara.’ I get requests from people like Tiwariji or from community workers and we’re trying to support them in the best possible way,” Poacha said.
By the way, each Fridge of Kindness is sponsored by one WhatsApp Group linked to donors who ensure that it remains complete 24×7 with ready-to-eat foods such as milk, juices, vegetables, dry vegetables of approximately Rs 10,000 per day, which proves a boon for cancer patient relatives or children who have undergone expensive procedures.
“It opens twice / thrice daily, people pick whatever they need, when it goes empty, our local contact posts a photo of the refrigerator, within minutes, a donor chips in and somehow, it gets refilled before the next opening date,” he said.
Before the age of cell phones and social media, Poacha experienced disappointment in his efforts but looked to the heavens and thanked the Almighty when total strangers unexpectedly came to help out from nowhere.
“I’ve had several such moments where I thought like nothing was going to work out, but then some angel or fairy will come in a human form and fix my problems in one shot. Now, I leave everything to Him and he never let us down,” Poacha said.
Such goodness messengers may be in the form of a local businessman, or a celebrity, or an industrialist, or a foreigner who simply asks, “How may I help you?” and is granted without a second request.
“I also reciprocate as I got a call from a Muslim colony today asking if we could help out with their little community kitchen. I’ve assured you can get whatever you want,” he said.
Now his daughter Tunisha has been infected by the ‘kindness virus’ She made a start this year by donating a whopping 5,000 schoolbags to the children of those who suffered in the devastating floods in various parts of Maharashtra last year, calling them appropriately ‘Bags of Kindness.’