Feroze, Murugan and Nazir are not that well off themselves, but that does not stop them from feeding the poor

M. Feroze Khan, M. Nazir Khan and S. Murugan know what it is like to be poor. They were school dropouts who struggled to find jobs.

Feroze and Murugan have been friends from their primary school days and Nazir was Murugan’s neighbour. Even as kids, they would keep aside some of their own food and share it with the beggars. “It became a habit, then a passion,” says Feroze. “When you want to do something dil se, nothing can stop you”, adds Nazir.

The desire to be of use to others and have an impact has kept the three going together for more than 25 years.

Thirty-four-year-old Feroze works at the Prem Vilas sweat shop near the railway junction. “I have a family but what about those kids in orphanages?” he asks. “I feel we should help people who are less fortunate than us,” he says.

Twenty-nine-year-old Nazir works in a restaurant near Town Hall. He says it hurts him when he sees food being thrown away every day.

“People don’t seem to value money anymore”, he says. Thirty-three-year-old Murugan runs a coffee stall at Pondy Bazaar.

He feels people are more important than mere profit and that there has to be fellow feeling amongst people.

The three friends have found a way to realise their vision. They cook food and feed the old and the destitute, the orphaned and abandoned children in eight different homes across the city.

For the last 12 years, they have followed a routine. They provide one meal (either breakfast, lunch or dinner) to the homes on rotation.

Feroze, Nazir and Murugan divide the breakfast, lunch and dinner duties amongst themselves. And it is no ordinary meal that they cook. “Why should people with nobody to love and care for them eat only leftovers?” asks Murugan. “They also deserve fresh and nutritious food,” says Nazir.

Fresh food is cooked daily for the inmates of two old age homes in Sellur and Pykara and four children’s homes. For breakfast, they make puri-subzi, pongal, idli-vada with sambar and chutney. Lunch is either vegetable biriyani or khichri with vegetables, or regular south Indian meals. And for dinner, it is mostly chapatis with kurma or dosa.

Many people come forward to help them in their mission. But there are days they find it difficult to make ends meet and have to shell out from their own low wages. Sometimes they have to downsize their menu.

But the three friends do not allow that to interrupt their service. With the same cheer and enthusiasm, they ensure their lonely friends get to eat.

To make some extra money, they also sell vada-bhaji in their spare time. All three acknowledge their family’s support. They say their families never demand anything extra from them and understand their zeal.

(Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail soma.basu@thehindu.co.in to tell her about someone you know who is making a difference.)