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Know the man behind Kolkata’s Anti-Hunger Squad

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After a hectic week, what do you generally do on weekends? Usually, we spend time partying or simply relaxing at home. Not many of us have the time or energy to step out of our own territory and indulge in needs of greater perspectives. Yet there still lies many amongst who are driven by an indomitable passion for serving the society. They submit themselves to a meaningful cause. Hunger is still a major problem in India, where more than 50 per cent of the population hardly get two square meals.Even plight of family members of patients admitted to government hospitals who come from far away districts and stay under the open sky till their patients are discharged is also known to us. Many of them go without proper food and sanitation, for they have no means to hire a place in the city, or even stay in a low budget hotel.

35th week of Anti Hunger Squad at NRS Hospital

But thanks to one man from Kolkata, many such family members are getting to have at least two square healthy and warm meals every day outside city’s prime hospitals. He is Zeeshan Majeed, founder of the ‘Anti-Hunger Squad Foundation,’ who is helping in serving patients and their families of government hospitals with meals completely free of cost on weekends. Every Sunday, you get to see Majeed out with a car full of home-made food in front of various hospitals. You will also get to see long queues in front of his car waiting to lay hands upon the food he brings. Zeeshan makes it a point to serve them with home-made food individually with a lot of care, love and compassion without charging a penny. 

He is a businessman himself, and what he is doing is purely from a sense of belonging to a city and a society he has been born and brought up in. His humanitarian face might be a source of inspiration for many. But what motivated him to come up with such a unique idea? According to Zeeshan: “I was on my way to office one day, when I came across a man who was lying on the road. He was severely injured. I took him to the NRS Hospital and that is where the whole idea started. Usually, whenever we want to donate something, we go to a slum. But once, I went to NRS, I realized the despair of people who come to the hospital from far and wide only in search of a proper treatment. Many of them come from affluent families but are forced to spend their days amidst the unhygienic environment. Some families of patients spend so much in the process of treatment that they are unable to spend on food from good eateries. Many of them spend their days in utmost despair. I was deeply disturbed by the very sight of their condition. Since then, I wanted to do something meaningful for them. This inspired me to come up with this idea. I started arranging food camps near and inside these hospitals.”

The food camps started last year and Zeeshan has been doing this sincerely every Sunday. Last Sunday, January 13 was his 35th food camp which took place at NRS Hospital. It is a completely self- funded project. Food for around 150 people is prepared from home and is distributed to people in front of hospitals. Usually, delicious home-made food like vegetable pulao or khichdi is served. Zeeshan hires a separate cook at home who makes food for around 150 people in a day. The families take the food for the patients. Zeeshan only gets time on Sundays and makes the most of it. He has covered almost all the government hospitals but usually targets Chittaranjan Hospital and NRS Hospital.“I feel a sense of relief when I see the satisfied faces of patients and their families. It gives me an inexpressible sense of gratification,” says Zeeshan.

People waiting to be served by Zeeshan

But was the journey easy? It was initially an uphill task. Zeeshan wanted to take permission from the hospital authorities but they seemed to be skeptical. Therefore, Zeeshan made it a point to park the cars outside the hospital gate and used to call people personally. “Initially, ego stopped people from coming forward to accept the food. Gradually, they started trusting me,”he said. 

Zeeshan has plans of expanding the horizons of this thoughtful project further. In days to come, he has plans to increase the feeding capacity. “It feels bad when there is a long queue waiting and the food is over. I will try to do my level best. In this process, I also want to create awareness in the society so that more people come forward to support the people in need. It is my mission to keep hunger at bay. Everyone is welcome as hunger has no religion.”