Story: BHARATI PAWASKAR | 07th June 2017, 04:02 Hrs
Tasty food, clean drinking water, a good bath, a set of tidy clothes and a neat haircut is something that poor homeless people can only dream about. However, Donald Fernandes has decided to offer these services to them free of cost in Sangolda
Food is one of the basic needs for a person’s survival. However, there are many people out on the streets who struggle everyday to get their daily bread. On the other hand around two crores worth of food is said to be wasted every year in our very own little Goa.
In such a scenario, doing our own part to help the underprivileged would go a long way. While David Fernandes and his better half have been trying to help these underprivileged for the past three years, they realised that something needed to be done on a bigger scale.
“Shouldn’t all this food that otherwise goes to waste only to increase the garbage menace or to make biodegradable compost, rightly go into these empty, hungry stomachs? My family does it on a small scale, but the number of underprivileged is expanding,” he said. Thus, as part of a ‘feed the poor mission’, Donald has come up with a novel idea of starting a food bank where people can donate their extra, leftover, yet still-edible food. This was his response to the PM Modi’s call to save food.
Started with the help of SSVP St Diogo Church at Guirim and few like minded citizens of Sangolda and Guirim parish, the food bank, which is situated at his place is operative 24 hours and is located along the Chogum Road in Sangolda.
“A fridge has been installed on this road for the public to dump their unwanted and extra food so that the hungry can pick up their bite. A 24-hour filtered drinking water facility and a cupboard of donated clothes will also be put up. I am making available a washroom and a bathroom in the vicinity of the food bank so that the poor can have a bath, get a haircut, get tidy clothes, a good meal and clean drinking water before moving away,” shares Donald.
Donald has also installed a full-fledged kitchen with all licenses for processing and supplying the food to those in need. Engaging a team of volunteers to pick up food from Panaji, Mapusa, Porvorim and Calangute, willing citizens like Gracy Desai, Melina Mendonsa, Thomson Silveira and Joe D’mello go on the streets to feed the poor whenever he requests. “But if volunteers from other parts in Goa come forward and spend two hours in a week on a fixed day to help me pick up the food, we can feed more mouths,” he says, while also appealing to hotels, caterers, bakeries and food processors to cut down on their food wastage. In fact, he has arranged frozen vehicles to pick food in bulk especially when there are functions like weddings etc and also has cold rooms to hold any and all types of food, be it - vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
Apart from this, Donald, who is a musician himself and holds a Limca Record for playing violin non-stop on a bicycle for 40 kilometres, also plans to collect unused musical instruments from people to distribute to orphanages in Goa to bring in some music into the lives of orphan kids.
Toys collected would be given to street kids. He has also appealed to people to donate unused medical equipment such as bedpans, walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, bed sheets, mattresses, water bags, waterbeds, walking sticks, neck and waist belts for the needy to use in the hospitals.
A blood bank, a free ambulance service and a human organ bank are also in the pipeline. “It’s like selling a dream, a concept but I want to see it being translated into reality,” says this businessman and social entrepreneur. “It’s a drive now, to expand the circle of kindness to the larger society and involve more people to join us. I appeal to like-minded organisations to take the moment forwards in different villages.”