Disaster Relief

A Journey of Perseverance – Part 4


In the fourth of our five part interview with R Madan, Chief Projects Officer at The Akshaya Patra Foundation, we are given insight into the success of the Earthquake Relief Centralised Kitchen initiative in Nepal. Read the previous section of the interview here.

What is the feedback from the beneficiaries about the food and running of the programme?

When we were there, the head of Tata Trusts and I visited the camps. We were surprised to be greeted by the entire camp. All the children were dancing and singing in their traditional clothes. They were very appreciative towards us.

blog4-image1The icing of the cake was what a lady said, which I think was written in the papers also. She said it’s not just about Akshaya Patra serving food. The initiative has brought people together at the camps too. It has created a social gathering because they all sit around where the food is being served. When we were serving the food, that one hour in the morning and evening became a social gathering where they could forget their troubles and look forward to something brighter. This for me was the greatest takeaway.

How many places/camps has Akshaya Patra been feeding in Nepal?

On an average we are feeding 12 to 14 camps. But the number of camps keeps varying from time to time because some of them are shutting down. The closest camp was around 3 kilometres while the furthest was around 45 kilometres.

Can you tell us about the additional benefits of the kitchen, like providing employment and income?

nepal-ladies-finalMore than income, it was a more of fostering cooperation between us and the people of Nepal.

Unlike in India, where we have three meals a day, Nepal is a little different because they rely on two big meals for the full day. Their morning meal was a big meal. During the afternoon they don’t usually eat followed by another big meal at around 6.30-7.30 in the evening.

But the issue was that people there were not willing to come to work before 7am. When we visited the camp, we asked a few ladies to join us at the kitchen. Initially they were little hesitant about coming early. We convinced them that we would pick them up and provide them with breakfast, after which they agreed to work in the kitchen. When we gave them these assurances, we had around 25 women coming to work for us.

blog4-image4Even more surprising was when their first month was over and we were giving them their salary, they refused to take it. They said they were indebted towards Akshaya Patra for their service, but we made sure they take their salary. That for me was a great feeling.

The Nepal Ambassador also visited the kitchen and the best thing he said in his concluding remark was till now the friendship between India and Nepal has been at a Governmental level. But this is one programme that had direct contact with the people. He also said he will go all out to help Akshaya Patra establish its operations in Nepal. This was a great statement made by him.

 Part V on 24 September…

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