Amit Sharma is a ‘divyang’, a term popularised by prime minister Narendra Modi for physically challenged people. A resident of Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh, he is associated with the state’s physically challenged sports association.
Early this year (2021), Amit decided to start a dhaba in Meerut. This was a unique initiative for the fact that the entire staff comprised of divyang people. They named it ‘Pandit Ji Kitchen’.
The venture was covered widely in the local media and received appreciation from various quarters.
The kitchen sold meals at an economical rate to school and college students, living in hostels nearby. The area has a number of private educational institutes.
Much to Amit’s disappointment, the second wave of Coronavirus hit the country and a lockdown came into effect in the state in April. Schools and colleges remained closed as did commercial establishments like malls and markets. Students returned to their homes. Hardly anyone was seen on the streets.
The kitchen, unfortunately, never picked up the way Amit had hoped it would. Nobody foresaw the second wave, after all.
Amit approached Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation for help. He wasn’t sure what kind of help he needed. After some conversations, we decided that we would adopt the kitchen as long as the lockdown was in place.
Amit said he was selling about 40 thalis everyday when the situation was normal. We decided to buy the same amount of thalis from him every day. Amit had an additional task though – to distribute the thalis for free to the needy, particularly daily wagers who were out of work during the lockdown.
This way, the dhaba kept running and no staff member lost his or her job. Teamwork!
This agreement continued for almost one-and-a-half months. The divyangs joyfully prepared meals for the poor and the needy. Like other frontline workers who served the society in different ways, these divyangs were on a noble mission too.
We continue to remain in touch with Amit. The lockdown has ended, but his dhaba is yet to pick up the way it was running in the months preceding April. We are with him, we have assured Amit.
Now that you know of it, do visit ‘Pandit Ji’s Kitchen’ in Partapur area of Meerut if you happen to be there.
Working on this project has been a truly enriching experience for our foundation. We believe in service and inclusion.
Watch Amit’s story here: