Syed, Akram, Gajendra and their team of volunteers are providing food for more than 600 people every day.

Season demonetisation Volunteer group in Hyd sets up free food stall for the cashless
news Demonetisation Saturday, November 26, 2016 - 11:42

A few kilometres away from Mehdipatnam bus stop in Hyderabad, more than fifty people have gathered together near pillar no. 47 of the PVNR Expressway.

They are there to eat free food from a stall set up by Syed Naseer Ahmed, his brother Akram, and Gajendra, a friend. The reason? Demonetisation.

“Few days back, two young labourers came to my restaurant asking for food. When I questioned them, I came to know that they don’t have money and have not eaten anything for the past two days. Then they said that because of demonetisation, they are now jobless as function halls in this area are not getting customers,” Syed said.

Syed, who owns a restaurant called Food on Fire, decided to start the stall on November 21 along with Akram and Gajendra.

The menu is simple: rice, dal, and buttermilk.

“People won’t go hungry from here,” said the 45-year-old.

A bunch of nearly 30 people have contributed money from their own pockets to set up the food stall.

They gather every day at 11 in the morning, in front of Rayyan Function Hall which is owned by Akram, to prepare the food.

The team serves the hungry from 2 pm till the time the food gets over. Nobody gets paid for this service, including the person who cooks the food.

“It’s getting tougher day by day as we don’t have much funds left, but we believe we can continue. After all, it is for a good cause,” said Parmesh, one of the volunteers who serves the food.

“It is said, where there is a will there is a way. We were worried about how we will manage the funding, but every day people are helping us. This morning, one lady donated around 25 kgs of rice and 5 litres of cooking oil,” said Syed.

However, feeding more than 600 people every day is not an easy task for the group, as their total expense goes up to Rs.10,000 per day. But they have planned to continue serving food until December 20.

“Today we have food, tomorrow also we will manage. But day after tomorrow, Allah will definitely show a way to continue with this cause,” said Syed.

The areas of Rethi Bowli, Attapur, Mehdipatnam and Tolichowki have more than 70 function halls, and many migrants labourers working there have recently lost their jobs after the demonetisation of high value currency.

"Since November 8, the function halls are facing a loss and labourers are going jobless as this is the marriage season and the sudden demonetisation has affected everyone," said Syed.

“As these labourers get daily wages, their livelihood has been hit hard. In my restaurant I can only manage to feed a few, we wanted to do something bigger than that,” he added.

“On Thursday, two well dressed people had our food. When asked they said, they have money but nobody is ready to give change for Rs.2000,” pointed out Akram.

These volunteers are generating resources among themselves and networking through a WhatsApp group "Dildar Hyderabad", which has helped them get donations for food items.

However, the "donation" must be in raw materials like rice, pulses or cooking oil and not cash.

Though the group is struggling to meet the requirements of those they feed, they haven't given up on their mission and continue to hope for the best.