Meet this former child laborer, who feeds around 2,000 people every day
Born in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, Malleswar Rao belonged to a farming family. His family moved to Nagpur, where they worked on his grandfather’s farm which was quite prosperous. However, heavy rains destroyed the entire harvest on their farmlands and livelihoods in 1998.
“My father had to sell our entire property to pay off the loans, and we were literally on the streets,” Malleshwar says. Social history.
The family moved to Nizamabad, Telangana, where his parents had to work daily and would have just enough to feed the family almost every day.
While the festivals were a break for most people, Malleshwar’s family suffered as they would not be paid on these days.
“On the days when my parents couldn’t make any money, they somehow tried to make little food for my brother and me, but they filled their stomachs with just water,” he explains.
Despite the many hardships, the 27-year-old is now actively working to alleviate hunger among the poor in Hyderabad and Rajahmundry through his non-profit organization. Don’t waste food.
In fact, it is also helping people in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19 by providing them with oxygen bottles, ration kits and ready meals for people in quarantine.
In a conversation with Social history, Malleshwar recounts how he started his non-profit organization in 2012 and the arduous journey that accompanied it.
Since his parents’ income was never enough for the family, Malleshwar and his brother decided to working in a restaurant earn a daily income of Rs 5 or Rs 10 at the age of eight.
However, they were soon fired from their jobs as they fled to play during working hours, seeing other children playing their age. A passer-by noticed it, which ultimately changed Malleshwar’s life.
“Not only did he help us in the situation, but he also followed us home, talked to our parents and made me join Samskar Ashram Vidyalayam where he worked as a teacher,” says Malleshwar, adding that his brother was too young. join at the time.
The school was founded by a social reformer Hemalatha Lavanam, where children of poor parents, sex workers, orphaned children and children in juvenile homes could study.
In addition to the program, these children could engage in other activities, including gardening, writing, painting, cooking, etc.
In 2009, Malleshwar finished grade 10. However, the school was closed after the founder’s death in 2008 because finances were tight and Malleshwar had to return home.
While he had to interrupt his studies due to several financial problems and started working daily, a friend of his helped him with another job at a naturopathic ashram.
Here he worked for about three years and also passed class 12 exams, using the books that the families of the patients gave him.
“I was admitted to Siddhartha Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, in 2012. However, I did not know the course and had no support. I was always kicked out of lab sessions for about two months because I couldn’t afford things necessary for this, such as an apron, draftsman, registers, etc. He said.
Soon he got a job as a waiter, where he worked secretly because he had hostel restrictions. Thanks to this work, he was able to buy everything needed for the class.
Once serve food at a function – where a splendid feast was held – he realized that most of the food is thrown away after everyone, including the staff, has eaten.
“Knowing what it’s like to stay hungry and homeless, I didn’t want that to happen, so I asked them to pack and distribute the food to nearby areas,” says Malleshwar, who made and distributed 800 to 900 packages of food.
Thus broke the idea of his group, Don’t waste food, that he started with his friend Chakradhar Goud in 2012. It was officially registered in 2021 as a non-profit association.
Don’t waste food
Stocking up on food at restaurants, PGs, inns, weddings and other events, Malleshwar distributed between 500 and 2000 packets of food each day.
Initially, Malleshwar did this on his own, but a lot of IT companies also volunteered on weekends.
“I have become addicted to food distribution and have immense satisfaction in feeding others. In fact, I don’t sleep if I know someone who is hungry, ”he explains.
Besides people on the streets, the group has also helped care for patients in government hospitals, train stations, parks and other public places. They also fed migrant workers and people residing in the slums.
“I know what it’s like to be a hungry child, and what it’s like to be a child laborer. I don’t want these kids to end up like this. So I try to give basic education, as well as toys and clothes for them, ”he said, adding that he is trying to allay the fear of schools and teachers of these children.
The group never stores food and distribute them the same day. In fact, team members eat the food first to make sure it is safe before distributing it.
The Don’t Waste Food group receives most of its funding from social media posts. Malleshwar had also set up a campaign on crowdfunding app Milaap who helped him raise money to feed people amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Fight the pandemic
Before Janata’s curfew was implemented, Malleshwar gathered his team and distributed bread and other foods with a longer shelf life. 8,000 people since the hotels had to be closed.
“Once the lockdown started, we would help the municipal workers with buttermilk to beat the summer heat and meals during the day,” he says.
As migrant workers began to march on the roads, Malleshwar reached out to his friends on social media and asked them for help. One of them helped organize 1000 meals in a hotel per day. He also shared photos of desperate workers returning to raise awareness and ask people to donate money for the cause.
With the help of donations, it could serve approximately 20,000 meals to the people every day. In addition, the group also distributed on 4000 packets of dog food.
Seeing its service, NK Travels donated around 25 vehicles to distribute this food across Hyderabad for about two months.
“It was sad to see people throwing food away after eating only half or less. That’s when I decided to switch to dry rations and put the requirements on Facebook, ”he says.
It was a shock to Malleshwar when he found among these donations an anonymous 20,000 kg of rice in two containers, which has served over 70,000 families during difficult times.
Thanks to many NGO members, he could help people in many cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Dehradun and Bengaluru among others.
He also distributed tons of fruit to hospitals, migrants and those in their homes in quarantine. Other donations such as 20,000 slippers and 50,000 masks, among others, were also distributed to underserved people.
Besides the cast, Malleshwar and his team also helped cremate over 180 bodies in the first wave, and are well prepared to do so now if the need arises.
While oxygen was affordable last year, it costs around 10 times now due to increasing demand. Due to increasing demands, it is now actively get oxygen cylinders to help those in need.
Malleshwar’s efforts have been recognized by many prominent figures, including actor Madhavan, Anand Mahindra and Norwegian diplomat Erik Solheim. It was also mentioned on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Mann ki Baat”.
He has also won numerous awards, including Indian Youth Icon in 2018, Rashtriya Gaurav Award, Son of the Soil Award in 2019 and COVID Warrior Award in 2020 from actor Chiranjeevi.
Speaking of which way to go, he says they are planning to launch an app, where people in difficulty or people new to a city can get food for free.
“They will be able to connect to our volunteers who can provide food at nearby restaurants or to someone who wants to donate food,” he adds.
Knowing what it is like to be hungry and strive for a square meal, Malleshwar says he is on a life mission to make sure no one is hungry.