Thirty-six-year-old Anchal Sharma was battling breast cancer just three years ago. Today, she has become the source of hope and happiness for thousands of slum dwellers and daily wage earners who are struggling to make ends meet during this gruelling lockdown. Anchal has raised a staggering Rs 1.25 crore to help over 25,000 families get ration and food items.
“People and other organisations have helped me raise over 1.25 cr fund with which I have been supporting over 25000 families in Delhi, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Andaman & Nicobar,” Sharma, a professional motivational speaker, said.
Anchal, after defeating the breast cancer in 2017, floated an NGO, "Meals of Happiness", to offer food for slum-dwelling children.
“I thought I would not survive as I battled this dreaded disease all alone. When I recovered, I realised I am a changed woman,” Sharma, who had a broken marriage, said.
She says her life saw more sorrows than joys, motivating her to dedicate herself to humanity. “And that’s how my journey to ensure a happy meal for everyone began,” she said.
Initially, out of her earnings, she arranged food for over 500 kids regularly. She says that she enjoys feeding kids because she grew in poverty and was deprived of many things in childhood.
When COVID-19 struck the country and the government enforced lockdown on March 24, she could imagine the plight of poor and daily wage earners. Disturbing videos and pictures of migrant labours walking day and night from Delhi and other cities to their hometown emerged on social and conventional media.
She collaborated with state police and administration to distribute the food to the needy.
“Delhi Police has provided its constables for food distribution in slum areas close to Vasant Kunj.” She said. She donated Rs 6 lakh to support food and ration to 1000 families in Andaman.
“We have adopted 100 families in villages such as Bondipura, Pushwari, Markundal, Sultanpur in Kashmir,” Anchal said.
She added, “I collaborate with other NGOs, welfare organisations, local leaders, MLAs and MPs so that I can reach out to needy people.”
Just two days ago, with the help of Dr Praveen Kumar Prasad, a Delhi-based doctor, who drew her attention to the plight of villagers in Pakadi Panchayat in Siwan district of Bihar, Anchal ensured the distribution of ration to over 565 families. The families include poor from the district and also over a dozen cases of COVID-19 positive patients.
“I was surprised to see the awareness of social distancing among villagers. Despite acute shortage for food for the past few days, no one crowded at the distribution site and followed discipline. I haven’t seen this kind of patience among people in urban areas,” Sharma said.
In Delhi, over 10,000 families at various slum locations such as Nathupur, Saket, Govindpuri, Rajpur Khurd, Viswas Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and Jakir Nagar are dependent on her for daily cocked food.
“In the next two days, I will collaborate with district administration in Gopaganj in Bihar to distribute food to over 700 families,” she said adding, “I will try and ensure no one sleeps empty-stomach in my country.”