COVID 19 Volunteering Chennai

Professors find allies in parents

For more than a month, six parents are cooking food for the needy and the homeless in Chennai. They are carrying out this service to support an initiative taken up by two professors of New College in Royapettah — Sulaiman and M. Ansar. The volunteering-parents’ children are studying at the college.

They live at Pulianthope, Mirsahibpet (near Ice House), Tirumangalam, Royapettah and Triplicane. They run roadside shops and relying on daily earnings. When the lockdown came into effect on May 10, they have been rendered out of work.

Now, they support the two professors’ initiative by cooking breakfast and lunch for them.

“Despite being poor, they help us as volunteers and cook food. They deliver the food packets promptly at the college campus every day. Their children volunteer in the distribution of the food,” says 45-year-old Sulaiman, who has been teaching commerce at the college for more than two decades.

Initially, when the State imposed total lockdown on May 10, the professors were distributing food packets only to 15 conservancy workers who were sweeping the road and clearing the garbage near the college. But in a few days, many poor people turned up at the college campus for food. This made Sulaiman and Ansar scale up their service; and hence they sought the support of their students’ parents.

“Earlier, we were buying food and distributing it to the conservancy workers. Our service was financially supported by our relatives and friends. As the numbers increased, buying food for a large number of people became expensive and we decided to cook and provide food. That keeps the costs down and therefore the initiative can be kept going for some more days. Hence, we sought the help of the parents to cook food and we would provide money to them for buying the necessary groceries,” says Sulaiman.

Each parent, on an average, makes at least 200 food packets every day. For breakfast, idlis, pongal or puris along with vadas are provided. And for lunch, it is chicken biryani with brinjal curry and onion.

Now with the combined efforts of the students and their parents, the professors are able to reach out to a large number of underprivileged people residing in neighbourhoods beyond Royapettah. This includes construction workers staying under the Dr. Radhakrishnan flyover in Mylapore. Due to the total lockdown, these workers are unable return to their home towns and are therefore stranded in the city. Further, they reach out to the downtrodden in Triplicane, Chepauk, Thousand Lights, Egmore and also faraway places such as Tirumangalam, Padi and Retteri. The professors-students team are confident that they would be able to continue the service through out the lockdown period. “Our college management also encouraged us in the initiative and extended support by allowing food distribution on the campus,” says Professor Ansar.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 5:02:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/professors-find-allies-in-parents/article34795156.ece

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