Ashfaaq Shaikh

On 24th March, when the lockdown was announced, I became anxious because lockdown meant no business But soon, I realized that there were people whose predicament was far worse than mine

I'm a food caterer by profession. On 24th March,when the lockdown was announced, I became anxious because lockdown meant nobusiness. But soon, I realized that there were people whose predicament was farworse than mine. Many had not only lost their livelihood but also had anysavings of their own for sustenance in the coming months. Me, few friends andfamily members pooled in some money and started food distribution for thehomeless and daily wage laborers. Within two weeks, we were serving over 2000meals a day. It was evident that we couldn't continue doing this on our own.That's when I got in touch with Khaanachahiye and joined the team asa food ninja on the western express highway.

The distribution was smooth. But for some reason, Ihave been stopped more than twenty times in the last two months while ferryingfood in my car. I had all the documents and passes with me. Yet, at many pointswhen the police see my car, they ask me to stop and park it on the roadside.And then the wait and arguments begin. I noticed that most of the vehiclesstopped like this had some showpiece or name on them that belonged to aparticular religion.

In most cases, they let me go after somenegotiations and emotional pleading from my side. But invariably the delay usedto make me nervous because someone was waiting for the food I was transporting.Once, the situation even got a little dangerous when a policeman shouted andheckled me for no reason.

But these were minor hiccups, and honestly, I amused to it now. The overall experience of serving food to those in need wasmore than satisfying. In our culture, we have the concept of Zakat, the ideathat every year one needs to offer a certain percentage of one's earnings ascharity. For me, this was the best Zakat I have ever offered. The fact that Icould serve the needy during the holy month of Ramzan made it all the morefulfilling.

People on the road have been extremely kind to me.Many offer water and food to me while I am doing the distribution. These wereheartening gestures that made my experience sweeter.

I was wary of publicizing what I was doing. Ididn't even tell my family where exactly I was going. I had lost my Dad manyyears back, and I am the only earning member in my family. I didn't want themto be anxious about me going to COVID affected areas when the entire city wasnervous about the pandemic. But fate has its way of surprising you.

Khaanachahiye was supporting Sonu Sood and NeetiGoel's Gharbhejo campaign by offering food to traveling migrants. While I washelping the Gharbhejo team with food for one of their buses, I was captured ina video along with the actor. That video went viral, and my cousin saw it andshared it with my wife. That's how my family came to know what I was doing. Butcontrary to my fears, they were incredibly supportive.

I had the privilege of meeting many wonderfulpeople in this journey, particularly my fellow ninjas. Their commitment levelskept me going even when I was down. I am thankful for the almighty to havegiven me such a chance. I pray that everyone gets such an opportunity to servethose in need. This service is not just about helping others but also aboutserving one's soul. Indeed the experience of a lifetime.

More Stories Behind the Masks

Furkhan Khan

read their story >

Karthikeyan KN

read their story >

Aashutosh Gokhale

read their story >

Want to join Mumbai's fight against hunger?

Be a part of our fight against hunger. If you’re an individual, organization, institution, donor, the press or an artist who would like to join us or partner with us, please reach out here or write to us at:

Thanks for reaching out!
we're also active on:
Oops! Something went wrong. Try again.

Khaana Chahiye Foundation is a
non-profit organization based in Mumbai. It aims to combat the issue of hunger through relief efforts and advocacy initiatives. The organization started as a relief operation during the Covid-19 lockdown in Mumbai and became one of the most extensive crisis management operations in the city.

Get in Touch at:
Social media button - TwitterSocial media button - LinkedInSocial media button - Facebook
Social media button - Instagram
Khaana Chahiye © 2021 All rights reserved. Website by