BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai/Nagpur, April 7 (IANS) It was a momentous Tuesday for Nagpur man Khushroo Poacha when Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called him up and took an overview of his charitable activities, done without donation of a single rupee.
“I was shocked and awed when the Chief Minister himself called and asked for details of my small work. I never expected that my humble efforts would attract attention at such a level,” said Poacha, his voice quivering with excitement.
The development came hours after IANS (on April 6) highlighted the story of Poacha, a Superintendent with Central Railway’s Commercial Department in Nagpur, who has single-handedly collected Rs 4 million food and aid in the Covid-19 pandemic season.
When industrialists, corporate houses, celebs, businessmen and the wealthy are jostling to donate staggering sums of money, Poacha proved that he also ‘cares’ – without an NGO, donations or a fat bank account.
“Thackeray Saab sounded quite puzzled how I managed all this without financial aid, but expressed his happiness that a citizen from Maharashtra was doing it. I felt honored when he not only offered all help from the government, but suggested I should assist the administration’s ongoing efforts,” Poacha told IANS.
The Nagpur-based Parsi with a charitable soul hit upon the strategy to feed thousands using his goodwill, personal and professional contacts through social media, collecting food and aid from the kind around the world for the needy and poor in India.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he single-handedly collected food and aid that has benefited over 6,000 families, and also two tonnes of rice to feed more than 60,000 poor.
Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission president Kishore Tiwari was all praises for Poacha who immediately responded to his SOS on April 5 by despatching a truckload of dry-food rations for nearly 550 farmers’ widows and their families for the next 10 days.
For the ongoing pandemic relief work, Poacha deploys help requests through a series of WhatsApp groups, and his websites, www.sevakitchen.org and www.indianblooddonors.com and apps, which in turn are supported by www.donatekart.com that assists him to source all his needs.
“Requests go through www.donatekart.com and donors make their contributions, which are routed to my supplier from where I pick up the stuff required. There is no monetary involvement at any stage,” he explained.
“We have set up 21 Seva Kitchens in India, mostly at cancer or children’s hospitals or schools where people can get good, nutritious food absolutely free. Besides, we have installed ‘Neki Ka Pitara’ (Fridge of Kindness) at these locations for the poor and needy,” Poacha said.
The Seva Kitchens, each serving around 3,000 meals a day, and ‘Neki Ka Pitara’ are functional in Nagpur (9), Hyderabad (4), one each in Bengaluru, Palwal (Haryana), Sawantwadi, Thane, Navi Mumbai (all in Maharashtra).
He mentions with pride a Seva Kitchen in Guldasta School, Sarita Vihar of New Delhi, manned by an ’80-year-young’ sprightly Vimla Kaul.
“My volunteers, a dedicated band of around 1,000, maintain an uninterrupted flow of supplies to the needy, irrespective of the region, caste or religion,” he said.
“Most importantly, it remains anonymous both ways – we don’t know who is a beneficiary and they don’t know about the benevolent,” said Poacha, who roughed it out in life from 16 years of age when he lost his father, but became the family breadwinner by joining Indian Railways.
Poacha, 52, who lives with wife Fermin and their 7-year daughter Tunisha, is linked with major social groups and organisations, like the Sant Nirankari Seva Dal, “who silently work, without bothering about any publicity or photo-ops” to help the needy.
BY QUAID NAJMI