By Oviya Govindan:
Once upon a time, there lived young Krishnan all of 29, a Maduraite. He trained himself in Hotel Management and culinary skills. He worked in a Five Star Hotel and got a lucrative job offer in Switzerland. It was a dream come true. He decided to visit Madurai to bid farewell to all. But fate had other plans for him…
The sight of the old and uncared for, starving was not new to Krishnan. India was full of such sights. However seeing a man eat his own waste out of unbearable hunger was too much for a man to bear. He says, “I was benumbed. Sleep deserted me that night as the old man’s image kept flitting in and out of my mind.” What is this human nature! It gets moved by such sights never to be forgotten. You would expect Krishnan to now sigh and say, ‘Ah, but what difference can I make after all..’ and continue Swiss-ward.
But there you will be mistaken. His Swiss journey never happened. He HAD to act to orient himself to change the plight of these people. The destitute.
Starting by cooking in his mother’s kitchen, and distributing food packets to the starving, mentally ill across the city he had to sometimes wash and bathe them, and feed them three meals a day. Literally.
India has one quarter of the world’s hungry population and is facing an acute shortage of proper food resources. In such a scenario, N. Krishnan has taken the lead to change things in Madurai, to begin with.
With a Maruti van that was donated by a well wisher, he reaches out to 120 people across Madurai giving them clean and home cooked food, never compromising on quality. With potable water filled in used plastic bottles collected from hotels, and steaming hot food, Krishnan brings a smile to the faces of the destitute. Some recognize his face, acknowledge the service, and even await his arrival. While some are in no condition to recognize him. He still goes on, hoping he can make a difference. He sure does.
With an estimate of 500 mentally ill people roaming the streets of Madurai, he strives to reach out to as many as possible while his perennial fear is that even if he fails to go one day, these people would start eating out of garbage again. Run entirely on donations from well wishers who contribute for the meals, his family chips in to make ends meet. He also puts his culinary skills to use by running a catering service that can serve 500 people. The profit from this serves to meet the needs of Akshaya Trust he started in 2002.
Dismay of parents turned to supporting every stage of his growth and today he has been recognized in a few forums for his excellence and dedication to humanitarian service. He also won the CNN Heroes award in 2008. Success rests lightly on his shoulders however, as he works incessantly for his cause. Hunger is one of the most agonizing human experiences. Deriving his energy and drive from the need to end the misery of Hunger in humans, he continues undaunted. Today he plans to establish a home for the mentally deranged women and feed, care for them.
And so, many of the poor and hungry breathe easier, thanks to committed individuals such as these. With conscious action by every individual in their limited capacity, a difference can be made. Ask Mr. N Krishnan.
Akshaya Trust can be contacted at 91-0452-4353439 or 91-98433-19933 or www.akshayatrust.org.
[Youth Icons is Youth Ki Awaaz’s section where we feature young change-makers who are dedicated to change the society by contributing in all possible ways. These are the unsung heroes who make it happen. These are not regular politicians or the celebrities who are thought to be the icons, but the ones who motivate us and drive us towards a better world. You can read more about the previous ones here.]