Under the good Samaritan’s roof
By Varsha Bansal - HYDERABAD
24th July 2012 09:02 AM
A doctor is someone who cures his/her patient from a disease. But, what if a doctor ensures that people don’t fall sick in the first place? After all, prevention is better than cure. This is what city-based doctor-turned-social worker, Surya Prakash believes in. According to him, hunger is the cause of various health problems one faces. “Food is the root cause of health problems across the world. And, there are a lot of people who go hungry to bed every night,” shares Praskash, adding, “That is why I decided to do something to address the issue of hunger in the city.”
Enter, a banana cart. “The concept with the banana cart was to either sell or distribute bananas. People could buy one if they had money and pick up another one for free to give it to someone who is hungry. And if someone didn’t have money, the banana was given for free. So that no one goes hungry to some extent atleast,” explains Prakash. Such banana carts burgeoned from one to nine carts across the city. However, because of logistical issues Prakash had to put an end to this.
In 2004, he moved on to another mode of explaining people about hunger. “I started training a few Kuchipudi dancers to perform at Ravindra Bharathi,” recalls Prakash, adding, “I wanted to convey a message through those performances. Unfortunately, people commented on the costumes and choreography, instead of understanding the concept.” This went on for around six months, and Prakash had to change tactics once again.
And so, in 2006, Prakash came up with an unusual and generous concept of an Open House, a.k.a, ‘Andari Illu’. “I rented a house in Kothapet and used to cook some rice and tomato. Anyone and everyone was welcome to eat that food between 11 pm and 1 am,” he shares. However, after sometime, this transitioned into people coming in and cooking themselves. “I guess I am not a very good cook,” he jokes.
It has been six years since then, and now the open house is open from 5: 30 am to 1 am, with provisions, and utilities, and is open to everyone, with around 60-100 people coming in to cook and eat everyday. “People need a place that is their’s We don’t ask any questions, and expect no answers. It is everyone’s house. They can walk in, cook, eat, and also stay as long as they want to,” says Prakash, adding, “This is a place where no sort of trade takes place.”
Ask him about what sort usually come in, and he explains, “People who don’t have a place to live, people who are in debts, people who lose their jobs, women who have been abused, etc.” The list seems never-ending. According to Prakash, this open house is beyond food. “People come to terms with life here. Many people have realised their dreams here. They talk, discuss and share.” With an expenditure of around `23,000-32,000 per month that Prakash has to bear, he is also happy about various donations that people make. “Some people donate rice bags, oil or even clothes. However the situation is such that I make sure there are enough rice bags so that no one who comes here goes hungry,” he adds.
Prakash, who gave up his profession to become a social worker, believes that he is still practicing medicine in his own way. “As I mentioned earlier, food is a major cause for people’s health problems. Till date, anyone who has eaten at open house has not fallen sick. This is because they eat freshly cooked food. So, this is my way of practicing medicine,” believes Prakash.
On a concluding note, Prakash requests people across the city to take some time out and open such a house, atleast for a few hours to ensure that people around them should not go hungry.
So, next time, one finds themselves in a situation when they have no where to go, there’s an open house in the city, which will offer you food and shelter and the comfort of living, sans the questions.
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