Published: 23rd August 2020
Once a child labourer, Malleshwar Rao is now feeding thousands of hungry folk during lockdown
It is truly his Facebook network that he leverages. People approach him to offer donations on this social media platform and he acknowledges them via his posts. You can help him with his work too
What does freshly cut harvest symbolise? Prosperity, abundance and good times to come. But when that harvest gets drenched in the rain, it could spell doom. That's what happened to Malleshwar Rao's family who had to sell everything and move from their home in Nagpur to a friend's place in Nizamabad to find an alternative livelihood after the tragedy. But their woes had only begun. "Only if my father got work during the day would we get food at night. And during festivals, he would have no work at all. So while the whole world would be feasting, we would be fasting," recollects Malleshwar sadly. As their lives plunged further and further into darkness, his father tried to find respite at the bottom of the bottle while Malleshwar, who should have been studying in school at the time, opted for manual labour work at construction sites and even worked as a waiter. Serendipity struck when a passerby spotted him and informed his parents of the Samskar Nature Ashram, started by the great social reformer Hemalata Lavanam, and the youngster completed his class X there. But with the activist’s death in 2008, the school shut down too.
Packing food for people who need it | (Pic: Malleshwar Rao)
Malleshwar continued to believe that education alone could ensure a better future and after struggling for a long time, joined Siddhartha Institute of Engineering and Technology to pursue BTech, while still resorting to work as a waiter at big events to make ends meet. "At one such event, there was a lot of leftover food at the end and the organisers gave us a free hand with it. Recalling my own hunger-filled days, I proposed that we pack it all up and distribute it near bus stops," narrates the 26-year-old. That's how his Don't Waste Food initiative started in 2012. And now during the lockdown, he has been assisted by a travel company who loaned them 25 cars to distribute food. They distribute 500 to 2,000 meals a day, depending on the donors they get. "Earlier, we had to call hotels and drop by events to see if they had any extra food but now, people call us," says the youngster whose Facebook network also helps him to a large extent. They cover several areas from Gachibowli to Outer Ring Road to Kokapet and so on.
Distributing it systematically | (Pic: Malleshwar Rao)
Under Connect Hope, another one of the Rajamundry-born youth's initiatives that provides basic amenities to the underprivileged, they have been donating PPE kits to Niloufer Hospital, Osmania Hospital and a few others too. The latest task that Malleshwar has taken up is performing the last rites for people who have died of COVID and have been rejected by their own family members and has done so for over 44 people. "I use a friend's car for now but soon, we are going to get an ambulance," he informs. So, as long as there are things to do and needy people to help in this world, we hope that youngsters like Malleshwar will join forces with other youngsters and take us to better days.
Some of the awards he has won:
- Indian Youth Icon 2018
- Rashtriya Gaurav Award 2019
- Son of the Soil Award 2019
For more on him, check out facebook.com/malleshwarrao1010