Talk about philanthropy and you can’t miss out one name doing yeoman service in city for 3 years now- Shilpam Kapur Rathore. It was a freezing cold winter night in Delhi in 2015 and Shilpam was on her way back from a wedding when she came across a heart-aching sight: a mother cooking for her child who was lying on the footpath and had bandage on his eye and head. This heart-wrenching sight outside the AIIMS campus in New Delhi made her go back to the place with some home-made food for the mother and her child.
Shilpam Kapur Rathore has travelled a long way and has many more miles to go— from her life changing experience on the street of Delhi to her noble service in Chennai. DC catches up with her on life and beyond.
The very next day, she went there with 20 home-made meals, hoping to provide some relief to people coming from villages and other districts for treatment for their near and dear ones at the hospital and had no place to stay in or no food to eat. She started giving 100 meals every day to people staying in the CRPF shelters right inside the AIIMS compound.When she relocated to Chennai in August 2016 , she decided to continue the work in Government Eye Hospital, Egmore and Adyar Cancer Institute with the same intention.
“There are Dharamshalas that provide accommodation but people do not get any food there, which is why I decided to ensure them a healthy dinner. They are running around the whole day and they may not have enough resource to buy food for themselves. Sometimes the care giver of the patient eats the leftover of the patient’s food. If they do not stay fit, who will look after the patients?” she asks.
Shilpam says her biggest pillar of strength in her entire journey has been her husband Sandeep Rai Rathore who is a senior cop (Additional Director-General of Police).
“When I spread the word that I was looking to feed people, there was enormous support from friends and families. First one month it was very tough as we did not have enough funds. I told my kids to cut down on junk food as I knew every little effort counts.”
As for the biggest challenge she has faced, Shilpam says, “It is a very floating crowd. We do not know how many people we would need to cater to the next day. So we had to choose the trauma department of the AIIMS as we were not able to cater to the other departments as the number of patients is comparatively high. We had many restrictions due to limited funds when we started.”
It was all by personal touch when Shilpam started. She would make the vegetable curry herself and get the rotis from outside and distribute it to the people. “Now the Dharamshala of the Adyar Cancer Institute makes the food for the people and we provide them with the funds. For the patients and their caregivers in Egmore Eye Hospital, we have arranged with a local restaurant that has devoted two cooks who make the food and package them. I have volunteers who distribute the food.” Shilpam has distributed over 1.75 lakh meals through her journey till now. Every day her organisation Aranya foundation provides 300 meals (patients of trauma department of the AIIMS, Adyar Cancer Institute and government eye hospital , Egmore combined) and looks forward to ensuring many more dinners for people in the days to come. Celebrities like Prashanth, Nawab Zada of Arcot and his wife have also joined their hands with Shilpam in distributing food. Shilpam’s annual fund-raising event is slated for August 28 at Hilton hotel in Chennai where Warsi Brothers from Hyderabad will be performing.