Couple exhausts Rs 4 lakh savings to feed 1,500 in Mumbai
Jul 25, 2020,
Mumbai couple exhaust Rs 4 lakh savings to feed 1,500
Mizga Shaikh (above) and her husband Faiyaz Shaikh used up the money saved to buy a house.
MUMBAI: When students at Zeal school, a small educational set-up in Malwani’s densely packed Ambhujwadi, told their principal they couldn’t afford to pay fees during the lockdown, she decided to give them a three month waiver. But chatting with her students revealed some of them barely had two square meals a day.
The principal, Mizga Shaikh, spoke to her husband, Faiyaz, and they decided to donate rations in the neighbourhood. Four months down the line, they have spent Rs 4 lakh from their personal savings and reached out to 1,500 people. The money had been saved up by the couple to buy a house. The beneficiaries of their donations cannot thank them enough.
“The lockdown has been very harsh on residents of Ambhujwadi, many of whom are daily wagers. When classes halted abruptly and schools everywhere started online classes, we too decided to go ahead. But students said their parents owned a single mobilephone and if their parents went off to do odd jobs, they would take the handsets along. We still tried to make a bunch of students sit together for classes over ‘Zoom’. But their parents didn’t even have money to buy books. That is when I took my teaching staff into confidence and waived off fees for all students for three months,” said Mizga, 38, who has been running the school out of five rooms for a decade. The school is yet to get a government recognition. When parents told her they were finding it tough to put food on the table, Mizga and her husband approached family friends and colleagues to pool in a sum. They started off by purchasing dry rations locally from Malwani and distributing it among students’ families.
“In the initial days of the lockdown, we stored sacks of rations inside the empty classrooms of our school. Gradually, a non-profit group chipped in,” said Faiyaz, 45. For eight weeks, the NGO organised for khichdi to be served to residents and the Shaikhs were involved in the distribution process. After the NGO packed up, the Shaikhs decided to continue the work. “We found out a place in Bhayandar where we could procure stocks from at better rates. We made 10 kg and 15 kg kits containing dal, rice, sugar, tea, oil etc. and started giving them out in Ambhujwadi. As word spread, some people living in Jogeshwari and Sion also came down for the rations,” said Faiyaz.
The Shaikhs meticulously maintained a record of all the beneficiaries. The work took up a lot of their time and it also meant spending less hours with their own kids-- a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. “But we will continue helping people as much as we can. Allah will help us save for our house again,” said Faiyaz, who works as a manager with a perfumes company, and has also dipped into his Provident Fund for raising money. Local youth have been volunteering to help with the ration distribution.
Not only food, the Shaikhs have also shelled out for medical expenses for a youth who had an accident. “A 22-year-old family friend slipped in the bathroom and lost consciousness. He had to be administered stitches on his leg and when we approached the Shaikhs for help, they footed the entire hospital bill,” said Shehzad Shamsher, an Ambhujwadi resident.