T. Gulab’s Inspiring Journey: From Spray Painting Automobiles to Helping the Poor!
From a little kitchen called Roti Charity Trust and the big hearts of Gulab and his close friends, a hot meal is served every afternoon, all seven days of the week, to around 250 caretakers of patients who are admitted in NIMHANS, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bangalore.
[The righteous are those who] give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives, saying, “We feed you for the sake of God alone, we seek neither recompense nor thanks from you. Truly, we fear from our Lord a woefully grim Day.” (Quran 76: 8-9)
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said:
“Feed the hungry, visit the sick and set free the captives.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
You don’t need lots of money to be kind and caring to needy fellow human beings or animals. All that you really need is a compassionate heart, and that is what Gulab is all about!
Tucked in a little by-lane off the busy Bannerghata main road in Bangalore is a house with a board announcing the”Roti Charity Trust”. From this little house and the big hearts of Gulab and his close friends, a hot lunch of ghee-rice and daal are served every day of the week to around 250 caretakers/attenders of patients, who are admitted in several hospitals in Bangalore”NIMHANS, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health. And most of them are from economically poor families’ and rural areas.
Unassuming and modest, Gulab was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He came face-to-face with the hard realities of life when he had to give up school after the fourth standard. After leaving school, he joined a madrasa. He studied there for two years and then dropped out. To share the responsibility of maintaining the family after his father passed away, Gulab joined his brothers in doing automobile spray-painting work.
In 2006, Gulab went to Dubai to work. Living by himself there, he learnt the art of cooking. In Dubai, he regularly followed Azher Maqsusi of Hyderabad on Facebook, who, through the Sani Welfare Foundation, helps distributefree meals everyday to the deserving. “I was very fascinated and inspired by Azher’s service to humanity and wanted to do similar work in Bangalore,” Gulab says. “I understand what it means to go to sleep hungry, and realised that there are many people in India who don’t even eat one square meal a day. I was desperate to help these people, but didn’t know how to start.”
In 2015, when Gulab returned to Bangalore from Dubai for good, he set off for Umrah with his mother. In the holy places he visited, he prayed to God for guidance, “to help me do service which will please Him”, as he puts it. He returned from Umrah and contacted Azher Maqsusi, who guided him on the logistics of how to do the work that he had set his heart on”helping serve food to the needy. “I had to earn bread and butter for my family”wife and three kids”too, so I set up a Motor Policy Insurance Agency,” he explains. “But my heart was in serving the poor. I discussed my passion with my closest friends and they all chipped in to help me.”
To begin with, Gulab had to do research as to who felt he should serve. He discovered that caretakers of patients who are admitted in government hospitals are often very stressed and many of them, from economically very poor families, are hard-pressed for funds for meals. Many of them are relatives or friends of patients from far-flung villages who come all the way to Bangalore for treatment. So, Gulab decided to focus on serving them, giving them nutritious food, fully free of cost!
Starting in April 2016 and using a friend’s house for this purpose, Gulab began to cook khichadi and daal , and, with the help of friends, began distributing the food to patients’ attenders at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health every Sunday. This cost Gulab around Rs 3000 every week. To begin with, he paid for this from his own earnings. Later, after some of his friends came to know about his work from his Facebook updates, they joined in. A few months later, Gulab felt encouraged to turn this into a daily service.
Serving lunch meals every day to over more than 250 patient attenders costs the Roti Charitable Trust some Rs. 60,000 every month (i.e. around Rs 3000 per day).Gulab and his friends pool in their personal funds for this purpose. Gulab says he does not go to people asking for support, and nor does he approach corporates, political bigwigs or the government. “Serving food to the poor has to come from within the hearts of people. They should understand the need,” he explains.
Ably supported by ever-smiling Prashant from Orissa,who cooks the meals every day, Gulab works along with a team of volunteer-friends. While two of these friends got together and arranged for a van for transporting the food to the hospital,one friend took the responsibility for procuring vegetables every day. Azher Maqsusi arranges for the rice, while Imtiaz Pasha arranges for drinking water to be given along with the food. Gulab also mentions another friend,FaizAkram Pasha, founder chairman of Janasadbhawana organization, who lends him his moral support. Gulab’s family also is very supportive of this mission.
Serving and helping the needy irrespective of religion, caste, class or gender gives him purpose in life, says Gulab. “We love serving these meals to the needy. Visiting the hospital every afternoon is our way of pleasing God, and this work is only for His pleasure,” say Gulab’s friends.
“A stranger who was one day passing by the hospital saw the food distribution and was so touched that the next day he quietly walked into the Roti Charity Trust and left some money for food distribution, leaving no name and address!” says Gulab. “If our intentions are pure, God sends help from somewhere.”
Listening to Gulab and his friends and watching the needy at the hospital eating the lunch they had received, not wasting even a grain, I understood the value of “charity with clarity” and the value of food.
Do make time to drop by at Gulab’s Roti Charity Trust for an insight into what it means to serve food to the needy with unconditional love and joy!
(Gulab can be reached at 9741906021. Address: Roti Charity Trust, Tilak Nagar, 30th Cross, Swagat Main Road, Tilaknagar, Jayanagar 4th ‘T’ Block, Bangalore”560041. Facebook: roticharitytrust., www.roticharitytrust.org)