Lunch Time for Kids with Farida and Ismail

Mushtaq Madani

What happens when your closest relatives let you down in times of distress, your neighbours abandon you and your closest friends too look away from you? You can sit and brood about this or you can get up and depend on your own abilities to move ahead in life. Mohammed Ismail and Farida Begum chose to let go off all their bitter experiences, forgive those who had let them down and walked the journey together to start a fresh life through their hard work, grit and determination.
Hailing from Kolar Gold Fields, Mohammed Ismail completed his schooling in the government Urdu Primary school and college, run by the Golden Valley Educational Trust. He later worked as an industrialist in KGF in a private company with 120 people. The company went into bad times, suffered losses and had to be shut down. With a family comprising his wife, son and daughter, Ismail as the only earning member was left helpless. ” We did not have even Rs 10 to buy half a kilo of rice. My close relatives, neighbours, looked away when I asked them for help. I decided to migrate to Pernambut in Tamil Nadu with my family where my wife’s parents lived. There we lived in a little hut and I worked as an office assistant in a firm. As I had no money for the schooling of my kids, they lost one year of education. I worked 14 hours a day for Rs 1200 a month. My wife used to save from this and sent the kids to a school there and also worked from home, making leather products. Then I worked for a businessman from Bangalore, selling his leather products in Chennai. With the money saved, I built a little house in Pernambut,” says Ismail.
Moving to Bangalore in search of greener pastures, Ismail worked as finance executive in a firm, living in Bangarapet. “A kind businessman told me one day that a canteen in a school in the city was vacant and in 2004, with my wife Farida, we began the canteen in a school run by a Muslim Educational Trust. I began to think that if I die, who will take care of my family, so I brought my wife into the business so that she could take care in times of need. She is an excellent cook, and snacks, breakfast and lunch for more than 1500 students and staff is made each day. It is made with the best oil and in the most hygienic fashion. We want to give the children clean, healthy food and we look after them as our own,” says Ismail.
While the sourcing of vegetables and provisions is taken care by Ismail, Farida is in complete charge of the cooking and planning of the menu each day. While Farida serves khichdi to the kids, Ismail offers his advise to the older students about life, while they eat.
The couple’s hard earned money was spent on education of their son in college, and daughter who is pursuing a course in medicine today.
Having seen the harsh realities of life and the tough ups and downs they had to face before they reached this level, Ismail and Farida are sensitive to the needs of the school children and every meal or snack served is made with loads of love.
” There was a day when we did not have even a few pennies to buy some rice, today we cook food for so many children and offer it at a very reasonable price, it is by God’s grace alone, that this could happen. We have enough for our basic needs and do not desire for more money. My wife, my better half is my best half in real,” concludes Ismail as he serves a plate of hot samosas to the hungry kids.
(Mohammed Ismail can be reached at 9449989247)
(Compiled by Nigar Ataulla)