Published: 05th April 2020
This school principal in Kerala cooks food and cycles around looking for people to feed during lockdown
Usha Venkatesh, founder and principal of Brightland Discovery School makes about 20 boxes of food every day and distributes it to the poor moving around on her cycle
Schools have closed owing to the lockdown but Usha Venkatesh, the Principal and Founder of Brightland Discovery School, Alappuzha has had busy days. She wakes up early in the morning, updates a few close buddies on Facebook about the day's menu, cooks and packs 20 boxes of food in separate disposable containers. Once that is done, Usha takes a cycle, and moves around looking for the hungry and makes sure all the packets are given to the needy on time. Her friends fondly address her as 'one woman army', but she smiles and says "I am doing what I can during this lockdown period."
Usha is definitely not new to serving people. "A few days back, there was a function at home. Unsurprisingly, there was surplus food. We decided to leave it in a community box nearby, wherein people used to keep the leftover food from their home, and the needy would take it from there. On this particular day, after the function, we left the food there, and a crowd gathered for food. That's when I witnessed that there were so many people who are struggling for a day's meal. From then on, I decided to leave at least 15 packets of food once a week," she beams and adds, "I was following it strictly, and finally the lockdown was declared. My son, who is in Australia, asked me if I would continue doing it now. I took it up as a challenge and was able to do it without any difficulty."
A glimpse of Usha's day
On the first day, when she went near the community box, a huge crowd encircled her, and she was initially terrified. A feeling that dissipated soon. "One of them told me that they knew that I would go with the food that day. This filled my heart with happiness, and I decided to continue doing the service every day," she says. To reach more people, Usha decided to take a cycle. "Since it is really hot these days, I decided to take the cycle. I kept the food on the basket of the cycle and moved around searching for the needy. After the lockdown, I observed that the truck drivers are the most affected as they don't get food from any outlets," informs the 55-year-old. When we asked her about her menu, she says, "I make rice, curry, some side dish and pickle every day. On Sundays, I make some vegetable fries, because everyone would wish to have something special on Sundays," she laughs.
When we asked her if the Coronavirus outbreak has influenced her school's curriculum in any way before they shut, she says, "We always have an interactive assembly. During the outbreak in South Korea, we discussed how the carelessness of the 31st person resulted in a huge disaster. This helped the students understand why it is important to maintain social distancing and self-quarantine when one is sick. Academically, as the schools were shut much in advance in Kerala, we decided to conduct exams through WhatsApp. Each set of questions were sent to the students during a specific time. The parents were made to monitor the kids and send the answers back during the instructed time. Hence, we could efficiently manage that as well," she concludes.