COVID-19 crisis: Man sets up community kitchen for slum dwellers
A man from Mumbai has set up a community kitchen from his savings for the poor migrant workers who are suffering due to the COVID-19-induced restrictions. Faiyaz Shaikh, who is in his mid-40s, lost his job in August last year, but that did not stop him from helping the poor families in the Ambujwadi slum locality at Malwani in suburban Malad.
His kitchen feeds over 500 people every day
Shaikh said that his community kitchen is providing food to around 500 people every day. Shaikh is also providing them ration and medicines since last year. Over one lakh migrant workers live in the Ambujwadi locality and their livelihood is dependent on daily wages.
Shaikh received help from some NGOs last year
Shaikh said that during the lockdown last year, he got help from some NGOs for ration and medicines, but this time, he had to manage things on his own. "After I lost my job, I got around Rs. 10 lakh from my company. I am utilizing that money to offer food to the migrants through community kitchen and also providing them medicines," he added.
The community kitchen has also provided employment to locals
Shaikh said that he came up with the idea of a community kitchen after seeing the sufferings of slum dwellers in Malwani. "The kitchen must continue to feed the children and the needy. The community kitchen has also helped in providing employment to locals and at the same time, hygiene is also maintained," he added.
Shaikh's wife runs a school in the locality
Shaikh's wife has also been running an English medium school in the area for the last 11 years where around 350 students are enrolled. "The fees of students were waived off for three months last year, and now for the entire year. The locality of the school comprises of daily wagers, who don't give priority to the education of their children," Shaikh said.
Shaikh provided shelter to families affected by Cyclone Tauktae
Shaikh said, "If the fee waiver was not allowed, there would have been dropouts from school, endangering the future of these children." When Cyclone Tauktae brushed past the Mumbai coast last week, strong winds blew away roofs of several houses in the slum colony. At that time, Shaikh provided shelter to these families in the school and made sure that they were well-fed.
They are also my family: Shaikh
Regarding managing his own livelihood, Shaikh said, "For the last 11 years, I have two families- my own and this slum colony. I can't differentiate between the two. I will continue to look after both till I can manage."