Food is the basic necessity that binds all the living beings on this globe. In Kannada, an adage says “Ellaru maduvudu Hottegagi, Genu Battegagi”— every act of us is directly related to feed the stomach and cover this body. In Hindi, a famous saying “Paapi Petka ka Savaal” is often used to emphasize the importance of two meals a day. “Anna Daata Sukhibhavo”—is a Sanskrit saying that teaches us to whole heartedly thank a person who feeds us. So no one can deny the importance food has in the life of all creatures.
Imagine a horrible scene where a destitute old man on the roadside is literally feeding on his own human waste to satisfy his hunger. Mr. Narayanan Krishnan an internationally recognized chef, who was about to fly to Switzerland to build up a lucrative career in hotel management was shocked to witness such an incidence of an old man feeding on his own excreta. He immediately rushed to fetch some food for that old man. But his belief of feeding people in a star restaurant as a chef was completely shattered with this incidence and he dropped his plans of becoming an international chef and decided to utilize his cooking skills to serve the destitute brethren in his own motherland. The unsung hero of this Kalam Fan club post is same Narayanan Krishnan who started his mission of taking care of destitute and mentally disabled people in a small way and has today grown up as Akshaya Foundation that has served nearly 1500 impoverished people and reunited nearly 400 of them with their family members.
Phase-1: Mobile canteen for Destitute
Having given up a lucrative career in Switzerland and determined to utilize his chef skills learned from hotel management course at Madurai Kamaraj University, in the year 2002, Krishnan solely but steadily initiated the mission of identifying old and orphans on the road side and feeding them with food prepared by him. Soon his movement got a direction as people started joining hands with him and he was donated with a van to carry food to various locations across the temple town of Madurai. His team searches temples, bridges and every nook and corner of the city covering 125 miles a day that starts as early as 4 A.M in the morning. Mr. Krishnan has mastered himself in the role of hair-cutting and can do eight different styles of haircuts. In addition to serving food for the destitute, he helps them to look clean and tidy with his expertise with scissors and combs. Thus the Akshaya Foundation had a humble but steady beginning in the form of a Mobile Caretaking unit for old and orphans leading a poor life in and around Madurai town. Krishnan had invested all his savings as a chef (approximately 1.5 lakh Rupees) in this mission. The operations cost for the entire mission used to be about 21,000 Rupees a day, but sponsored donations sufficed for 22 days requirement in a month. Krishnan used to manage the shortfall with the monthly rent he was procuring from a home his grandfather had gifted him.
Initially, his parents who had educated him facing all odds of life were not impressed with his sudden decision to throw away a lucrative career. But today with more than a decade service to the needy people Krishnan has convinced his parents about his goals and his mother is happy to feed him who feeds thousands of needy ones. With the success of serving food to needy across the city, Krishnan and his team’s willingness to provide a shelter for all these road sides destitute grew immensely. With growing popularity of Akshaya Trust, they could mobilize funds to start dormitory called Akshaya Home.
Phase-2: Akshaya Home for the Needy
Krishnan was very much delighted to start Akshaya Home in a sprawling campus of 70000 sq. ft. With this, the mobile van which was used to cater food packets to destitute citizens of Madurai was transformed as an ambulance and abandoned people were brought to Akshaya Home campus. They were provided with medical aid and place to reside. Currently, more than 400 inmates live at Akshaya Home, and from 2003 to 2016 almost 2.25 million meals have been served by the trust. Approximately 1500 people who were mentally ill or old have been rescued, and more than 400 of them are handed over to their relatives after rehabilitation and counseling. Though the journey of owning a dormitory for destitute was not a cake walk for Krishnan and he had to stop its construction on many occasions due to lack of funds, he has not given up and has reached his goal stupendously. With more than 450 inmates at this Akshaya Home Phase-1, it has become hurricane task for the volunteers to manage them. Currently, Akshaya Home Phase-2 is initiated by Krishnan’s team, and they are seeking helping hand from the society to make it a reality.
Controversy to Mar CNN Heroes’ Image
Media sometimes try to sensationalize issues. Same thing happened with Krishnan’s Akshaya Foundation too when a 23-year-old inmate escaped from the Akshaya Home and alleged that some peers sexually abused her. She was a mentally challenged lady, and her allegations were given more colors to tarnish the image of Krishnan who has even bagged CNN Hero award for the year 2010. Concerning space constraints at residential home, Krishnan himself as accepted the same and it is due to the same reason his trust is on its way to start Akshaya Home Phase-2. To conclude when a mission of greater magnitude involving differently challenged beings is undertaken struggles and hardships are common, and even Narayanan Krishnan has accepted it in his stride and is forging ahead to accomplish his dream of ‘Help The Helpless.’ A man who prefers to sleep in the kitchen of his dormitory instead of the comfort of a bed room cannot be doubted about his intentions.
Kalam Fan club wishes this incredible human being all the success in his future endeavors.