Cooking up a biryani storm!

Four local clubs are making sure that people in need do not go to bed hungry

KATHMANDU: Kathmandu has gone quiet and silent with perhaps the rustle of leaves being the only audible sound in the vicinity. But an open space (a football ground) at Sinamangal is busting with activity everyday as six-seven men energetically prepare biryani (a rice dish) in a large vessel, while a few of are busy packing the cooked biryani for distribution.

Photo courtesy: Guna Raj Pyakurel/ Santosh Nepal
Photo courtesy: Guna Raj Pyakurel/ Santosh Nepal

These individuals are volunteers from four different clubs of wards 9 and 31 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, namely Subharmabha Yuva Club, Aawhan Yuwa Sanjal, Bijay Chowk Yuva Club and King Come Sports Club.

These clubs together have been feeding the homeless, slum dwellers and migrant workers every day in the evening since March 31.

Their aim is to pack around 400 meals a day “ensuring that most of the City’s workforce do not go to bed hungry,” shared Guna Raj Pyakurel, President of Subharambha Yuva Club.

Pyakurel, who is also the man behind the initiative, sharing about the situation during the initial days of the initiative, said, “We started with less people. Many of us were not convinced to take the initiative as it was a difficult task.” He added, “We began distributing the meals collecting money from one another; on the first day, we distributed food to over 92 people and that was so satisfying.

The other day we all pledged to serve to our fullest as we received so much of positive energy.”

A recipient of the meal, Deepak Shahi, 42, a migrant worker residing at Chabhil, was heading back to his quarters with two packets of biryani.

With a happy face said, “The food is good. These two packets are for my wife and children,” and added, “I don’t have work or money now.

Thank God we have such people who are providing us meals.”

Photo courtesy: Guna Raj Pyakurel/ Santosh Nepal
Photo courtesy: Guna Raj Pyakurel/ Santosh Nepal

Even before this scribe could ask another question, he rushed away shouting: “They are doing a great job, write well about them!”

As per Pyakurel, they are primarily focussing on the destitutes and “with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, the lockdown could be further extended. So we are preparing ourselves and focussing more on the poor and needy.”

As a safety measure as per Pyakurel, the entire cooking station is being disinfected and cleaned daily.

And the cooking team “is making use of gloves, sanitisers, hygiene measures and even PPE. We are really careful in this regard”.

However, as per Pyakurel, they are in need of a temperature gun “so that we could assess individuals, and if any problem is found, could guide them to a medical facility”.

And the people who come for the biryani are asked to line up following the social distancing rule.

For the food, as per Pyakurel, they are receiving support from local people. “People have been supportive so far. They are contributing on occasions of their birthdays and special days like Mother’s Day,” shared Pyakurel. They have backup to feed 400 daily for 25 more days.

Santosh Nepal, Secretary of Bijay Chowk Yuva Club, who too is a part of the initiative, came aboard when “we realised it was time to act. If we all stay at home now, then there are lesser chances of the needs of the poor and needy being addressed”.

Before joining the initiative, his club had already distributed food to 270 people at Pashupati area collaborating with a NGO and Pashupati Development Trust, and to police personnel in and around the Gaushala area.

People from Gaushala, Chabahil, Kapan, Koteshowre, Tinkune, Baneshwore and other places come for the biryani every day, informed Nepal.

These clubs have also been assisting the police in making sure the lockdown is effective by stopping people from going outside without a specific reason, conducting cleanliness programmes, disinfecting their locality, emergency support like coordinating ambulance service, health support, among others. “We have divided the volunteers and they perform the duties they are entrusted with on a daily basis,” shared Nepal.

So, what is it that pushes them to continue with their work in this uncertain time? “It’s the inner peace and energy that we receive from what we are doing.

We are not letting people go to sleep hungry, and are a reason for their survival at this point of time. And it’s the best feeling,” shared Pyakurel and Nepal in unison.