“My friends and I feed 5,000 people a day”

Faiz Ilahi, 25, New Delhi (India)

I work as a data engineer, but when coronavirus broke in New Delhi, India, I founded Khidmat Kitchen (“relief kitchen”) to help fight hunger amid the pandemic. Every day we deliver 5,000 meals to those in need.

It all started on March 22nd, when I went out to buy some dry fruits and honey for my tea. I saw some lower-class ladies who looked so tired. I ignored them and walked away. But then I couldn’t help but turn around. They said they hadn’t eaten in four days. That made me realize that I was so privileged — I was out to buy food for myself whilst these ladies had not eaten in days. And I had walked away from them. What did that say about me? It said that I was a small human, that’s what it said. 

I took their phone numbers. Then I loaded my car with enough food for two/three weeks and delivered it to them. I took a video asking my friends and neighbors to help.  So many joined me. We expanded quickly and we are now helping hundreds of families. We prepare food in our own kitchens and then we personally deliver it.  We cook very diligently and out of so much love — I can’t even describe how much.  It’s been almost 50 days since the kitchen opened. We prepared over 80,000 meals.

 At first we were only delivering raw materials, but not everyone we were helping was innocent and honest. Some were liquor-addicts, some were drug-addicts, some were gamblers. And they all needed cash for that, so they would take the food and then sell it. Sometimes they would have their children do it for them. When my friends and I were made aware of this, we had a discussion and decided to prepare tasty meals instead of just giving out uncooked food.

We are not a non profit nor social workers. We are engineers just like myself, businessmen, mechanics, graduate students….  Some have become cooks, some have become helpers. Since the lockdown was declared a couple of months ago, there has not been a single day that we have not stepped outside our homes to distribute food.

Those we help have no other option, and it’s no longer just lower-income families. Coronavirus is affecting so many; people have lost their jobs and are going through a very hard time. We are so happy that we can help whoever is in need. But at the moment, our treasury is empty. Running the kitchens costs around 50,000 Rupees a day. My monthly salary is 25,000 Rupees. We keep going, but I am asking my friends and neighbors to keep making donations.

Humanity comes first. If these people don’t die of coronavirus, they’ll die of hunger. 

Donations can be sent at +91 99999 67475 via UPI or GPay.

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