Most of us who have grandparents at home might be familiar with them comparing the era they were born in to the present one. The major changes they talk of are how violent people have become nowadays, the feeling of hatred towards each other, selfishness, corruption, and so on. However, there are people who think out of the box. They have feelings for mankind and humanity.
In a scenario where most people are concerned only about their own wellbeing and charity is just a part of pomp and show, there are some people in our society who still wholeheartedly take the initiative to help and serve others, despite having no relations with them.
Anjappam is one such initiative that upholds the value that food and knowledge must be given to a person not with sympathy but with respect. The brainchild of father Bobby Jose Kattikad, a priest, writer, and a human being of substance, Anjappam is a food aid project in Kerala that aims to benefit the economically backward and often forgotten sections of Kerala’s society.
The primary offering of Anjappam is a chain of economical restaurants that are currently located within Pathanamthitta. The restaurants do not serve food free of cost, keeping in mind that eating for free might not be acceptable for many.
Explaining more about its functioning, the Treasurer of the project, who prefers to stay anonymous, said, “We serve food at a nominal cost of Rs. 25 per meal, but never compel anyone to pay that either. People who do not have the financial status to pay that are more than welcome to have the food without paying anything. They are also welcome to pay whatever they can. Even if it is less than Rs. 25, the money is accepted wholeheartedly.”
The restaurants serve only vegetarian food. The members of the trust take care to ensure that a majority of the vegetables are acquired locally so that they can provide tasty as well as environment friendly food, which is good for both the body and mind. As of now, the restaurants only serve lunch and will provide breakfast also once they have settled down.
During the day, the restaurants act as places where good, healthy meals are available at affordable prices and in the evenings, they are transformed into reading spaces with libraries. The restaurants now have a wonderful collection of books and is popular among college students, who visit in large numbers.
The Treasurer says that it is heartwarming to see that the restaurants, which were formally inuagurated on October 9, have gained acclamation in such a small span. Sharing her experience about the attitude of people visiting the restaurants on daily basis, she says that there are people who eat a meal and pay Rs. 25, even if they are financially sound.
“On the other hand, there are people who give whatever they have, even Rs. 50 and tell us that this humble donation will at least provide free food for one hungry stomach. Some also give us Rs. 1,000 or Rs. 2,000 after they get to know about the real aim behind this initiative,” she added.
Anjappam is much more than this. Anyone who intends to help the poor and needy always have an option available here. This need not be in terms of money, but also as spending one’s time at the restaurants, serving food and helping with cleaning activities. Volunteers can also teach basic skills to the illiterate who come here during evenings. They uphold the thought that donations need not be in terms of money only and that a person who is ready to help the downtrodden can do it in whichever manner he feels it right.
The organisation intends to be a self-sustainable one and thus has another initiative called ‘Appakootu’, wherein a person who is financially sound and is ready to donate money can give Rs. 1,000 per month. ‘Appakootu’ now has around 500 members. Though Anjappam was started by Fr. Bobby Jose, the working of the trust is being looked after by a team, which is headed by president Baby Sam and supervised by secretary A.J. Sebastian. It is, therefore, a project put together and managed by a group of diverse people with a common goal of betterment.