An NGO initially started as a Whatsapp Group with just five to seven members, who wanted to help homeless people is now fighting hunger and poverty in Kerala. These residents of Kozhikode collected funds and started with distributing breakfast to the deprived people on every Sunday morning. With a vision to help more and more people, in just three years, the ‘Theruvinte Makkal’ a Kerala based NGO is now feeding more than 300 people thrice a week, and not just in Kozhikode but in 14 other districts of the state as well.
Theruvinte Makkal means Children of the streets, and the significance of this name means a lot to the 24 core committee members of the organisation. According to one of the community member, they feel that they are the “children of the streets” whose aim is to help their brothers and sisters who are left to stay on the streets because of their poor financial condition or other reasons.
State secretary of the organisation, Muneer Munderi told The Logical Indian that, Theruvinte Makkal still runs as a WhatsApp group, from where they try to educate the people of Kerala about initiatives of the organisation. They raise their fund using the same platform as a medium for awareness.
The initial days
When we asked Muneer about how their journey to help others started, he said, “we started in 2015, when we observed that near the bada bazar area, where our shops are, a lot of old and young beggars would sit for entire day and even slept there in the night as they had no other place to go, sometimes people use to give them money, but we wanted to do more for these people, and we created a WhatsApp group to discuss the further course of action.”
Muneer told us that soon they decided to start a camp to help these people. “We started distributing breakfast every Sunday, we provided them with some clothes, and we also arranged for a barber to get their haircut done, so as to make them look better,” he added.
The 40-year-old Muneer told us, “It has been three years since we have been conducting our weekly camp. Now, on every Sunday morning from around 6:30 to 8 am, a long queue of people wait for their breakfast. More than 300 people gather to get their breakfast. Initially, it was only one day in a week, but now we try to do it thrice a week,” he adds.
He also told us that the menu keeps changing, sometimes it is appam, sometimes dosa or other times paratha and curry. He said that the menu depends on the choice of the sponsors, but the tea is fixed.
“Our small group has now become a big community with more than 500 active members from different districts of Kerala,” he added.
“We just don’t provide them with food. We try to help them in whatever way we can. If anybody needs medical treatment we take them to a nearby government hospital,” said Muneer.
He further said that the organisation helps people reunite with their families as well. He said that the organisation takes the help of state police, if needed, to get in contact with the lost family.
He says that it has not been a cakewalk. “A lot of the times families have themselves abandoned these people, and they don’t want them back. We try for reconciliation, but if that does not work we take them to the government old age homes,” he adds.
Aslam, who is the chairman of Kasaragod area, told us that in Kerala there are very few organisations which are involved in helping destitute. He says that he is proud to be part of one such organisation, where they know who they are helping and how is it useful.
He says the organisation has got a lot of appreciation from the people of Kerala. Many people come on their own will and donate money to help the needy people.
The 32-year-old Aslam owns a hotel, and he says that even if he is not able to go to the camp every Sunday, he stays in contact with the people and keeps taking the update.
When asked about the future plans for the organisation, Muneer said, that there are so many villages in Kerala where the condition is terrible and they aim to reach those places. “In these villages, men die of alcoholism, but the women are left to suffer, the children do not get an education. These villages are grappling with poverty and government ignorance. Theruvinte Makkal has planned to help such people.”
He further said that he had almost collected two lakhs rupees and in just next ten days they will camp one such nearby village to help the people there.
The Logical Indian appreciates and commends the team of Theruvinte Makkal and hope that people take inspiration from them.