85-five-year old Mumbai resident, Delma, is a retired school teacher. She lives in Borivali and does not have anyone at her home to cook or take care of her. However, a blessing came into Delma’s life in the form of Mark D’Souza, who is now like a son to her. Delma welcomes Mark every afternoon to her home where he cooks a healthy meal for her; a meal cooked in keeping the health of senior citizens in mind.
Delma is just one of the few residents of Borivali’s I.C. Colony who happily welcome Mr. D’Souza’s culinary talent into their homes. Every day, for the past three years, Mark has been providing free meals to over 40 citizens in the colony. All he wants is blessings and prayers as he has never taken a single rupee from any of these people.
“I do not have my parents anymore. My mother-in-law stays with us and we take care of her. One fine day, I was just sitting in my office when the thought struck me that there must be so many senior citizens living alone in this country. How do they arrange a well-prepared food for themselves?” Mark humbly states. Mark pondered upon this thought and finally decided to open up a free tiffin service for the elderly. On Diwali of 2012, he launched his Tiffin Service.
In order to find people to serve, Mark had to gather the necessary contacts of people who needed his service. His wife, Yvonne, who is also the president of the I.C. Women’s Welfare Association, connected him with the 300 members of the colony and they directed him to many senior citizens that lived in the area. “These are people who are living alone, those who cannot cook food because of some kind of disability, and in some cases, their families do not get along with or take care of the elderly parents well,” Mark says.
He personally delivers an average of 25 to 30 meals a day.
One might wonder how Mark has the time to deliver and cook all of this food? His sharp business skills prevail among this service, as he has hired a cook to prepare the food, paying her Rs 7,000 a month. Every week, he purchases the required vegetables and the other groceries. Mark provides enough food for lunch and dinner, and his set menu includes vegetarian on weekdays and non-vegetarian on weekends. A typical tiffin includes chapati, rice and a vegetable.
In order to fund his service, Mark owns an estate agency business. He works in his office from eight in the morning to noon. After this, he is out until 3 in the afternoon delivering food.
What keeps Mark motivated is the satisfaction that he receives by doing this great deed. “It is all about inner satisfaction. When these people receive the tiffin, they always say – ‘God bless you!’ It is such a sweet thing. They are all like my parents.”
The gift of giving never ends for the D’Souzas. Yvonne has now started an old age home. The couple bought the flat and set it up with five beds. The residents pay a minimal amount of money, with Yvonne taking care of their food, medicine and other costs. She also employs a full-time caretaker at home, who also helps Mark with his food delivery.
If more people want to avail his service, he will be more than happy to grow it to other places. For him, it is all about taking care: “Once you have the initiative, everything falls into place.”