Food, clothing, and shelter are known to be the basic necessities. The absence of even one of them makes survival difficult. But there exist people who cannot afford these necessities. How difficult might be life for them? They use rags as clothes; make flyovers their homes, and what about food? They cannot eat anything right from the trash. But there’s a man named Azhar Maqsusi, who’s been serving food under one such flyover to all the people lined up. Why does he do that? Just a random act of selflessness.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Hunger has no religion
Rightly written, after a storm, comes a calm. For beggars and the rag pickers, the thunder of hunger calms every day when a slim man appears on the scene at sharp 12:30 pm and starts serving them food, hot rice, and dal.
And this has been a common sight for the people of the old city, right since 2012. All this happens under the scenic Dabeerpura flyover. As for the icing on the cake, let us tell you that there has not been a single day since then when even an individual has left, unfed. And who is the slim man behind it? Who is the realistic food god for thousands of people waiting eagerly under the flyover? Meet Syed Osman Azhar Maqsusi, who works with unflinching zeal to satiate the hunger of the needy with an apt slogan hunger has no religion.
Now, many of you might be wondering how this man understands the suffering of these hunger-stricken people. Azhar says that it’s because he lost his father at an early age of four. And he himself has even experienced the pangs of hunger. Due to this, he is ready to do anything to improve the condition of these people.
The encounter that ignited the spark
It was his encounter with the homeless woman named Lakshmi, motivated Azhar to launch the free food program and made that day a blessed one for hundreds of people. He felt the need to do something for these abandoned people while feeding this lady who was sobbing due to the hunger of 4 long days.
In the beginning, his wife used to cook all the food, including rice, at their home. Then, Azhar would transport it to the site and distribute it to the people. But this method proved to be extremely costly. Thus, he decided to hire a cook and began cooking the food under the flyover. This way, he was able to save the money as well as the time required to make the food available to the people.
“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”
The beginning was slow since they were serving only 30-35 people in a day. But as rightly said, Slow and steady wins the race. They never stopped, not even for a day, not even when it rained heavily. And now they are serving over 300 people in a day. The Sani Welfare Foundation has now hired two cooks helping in the chores.
Azhar wasn't content enough, and so he extended his line of work to Gandhi Hospital which is the biggest government-run facility in Secunderabad. And as expected from the government services, nothing happens on time that results in thousands of patients and their attendants, hunger-stricken waiting for the treatment. Hence, the second phase of Azhar's foundation begins with serving food to people anticipating for days.
The present work of the foundation
The Foundation along with NGOs is also running daily food programs in Bengaluru, Guwahati, Raichur, and Tandur.
A noble cause just needs to be initiated by someone. Then it is carried along by a lot of other enthusiastic people. The work that Azhar started with his wife has motivated many other organizations and individuals. At the moment, one can find many organizations distributing food amongst the people who need it. AND they make sure that no food is wasted which is another most important thing.
He, however, believes that his dream will come true only when hunger is eliminated from this country and the world.
"There should be nothing called hunger"
He runs a Plaster-of-Paris unit near Dabeerpura and spends a few hours every morning and evening there. The rest of the time he spends in arranging food at both the places. Azhar is often helped by his brother, his cousin and a couple of volunteers on weekends.
Often when he is simply sitting in his shop, people walk in with donations in the form of sacks of rice and lentils. Azhar is proud that he has been able to raise the awareness of “Sharing is caring” amongst the wealthy people of Hyderabad.
His generous act hasn’t gone unnoticed. He has also attended an event of Being Human, foundation of Salman Khan. The social worker was earlier on a show 'Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi' hosted by Amitabh Bachchan. Various organizations have also honored him.
Azhar, however, remained down to earth. He doesn't have an office or staff. There is no change in his lifestyle, even after all the recognition he has received.
He doesn't collect funds. If people come with donations in the form of rice and dal, he accepts it. He doesn't accept cash unless the donor is not in a position to bring rice or dal. Third among the four siblings, he dropped out of school when he was in the fifth standard and started working as a laborer. Since then, Azhar has earned the sweet taste of all the hard work he has ever done.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice.”
For something great to happen, we all need inspiration. We all need someone to look back or look up to. For Azhar, his biggest inspiration has been his mother. His mother has struggled a lot to bring him and his siblings up. His sole belief has always been that Allah is arranging food for the hungry, and the needy through him. He never judges anyone based on the religion they belong to. All that matters to him is that they’ve stood in the same line as all others. It’s all written in their destiny.
"For Azhar, there is no personal gain in it. He is just doing it for the human cause".