BANGALORE: One need not be a graduate nor be wealthy to find ways of helping the disadvantaged.
Neither was RB Shivakumar born with a silver spoon in his mouth, nor has he completed a university course. Yet he feeds the poor.
Many years ago, Shivakumar, who had failed his SSLC examinations, had started helping his father who supplies plantain leaves and bananas for marriage halls. On a trip to one such hall, he saw a vehicle being loaded with leftover food and that is where the idea germinated. “I was shocked to see the quantity of food that was being loaded onto the vehicle. I asked the people at the marriage hall to give the food to the poor but was told that there was no one to take up that responsibility.
This made me consider the possibility of distributing such leftover food to slum dwellers,” Shivakumar said.
He then urged his friends to join hands with him. “My friends said that the police would arrest me if a slum dweller suffers from food poisoning,” he recalled. Shivakumar then bought a Mahindra Bolero vehicle to collect leftover food from marriage halls.
He urged several marriage halls in the Rajajinagar area to inform him whenever there was leftover food. “I started collecting leftover food 18 months ago and dedicate this service to Shivakumar Swamiji of Siddaganga Math,” he said. This desire to help others seems to run in the family.
Bhadraiah, who started distributing plantain leaves and bananas from a footpath, later supplied drinking water at bus stands. “My father’s philosophy motivated me a lot,” he said.
Shivakumar is usually busy from January to June and from August to December. “On the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, I received 120 phone calls asking me to take leftover food from halls. I collected the food from 40 halls and distributed it to around 28,000 slum dwellers.
I also distribute the leftover food at old-age homes and orphanages. I collect leftover food at least from 10 marriage halls a day during the marriage season,” he said.
Now, Shivakumar wants to extend his service to other parts of Bangalore, and also across the state. “It is simply not fair to waste food when many people wait for a few morsels. I will assist those who want to start a similar service in their areas,” he said, adding that he has also been supplying drinking water at 80 bus stands and has constructed 20 bus shelters. “I have asked my employees to plant two saplings a day and water them every day. The forest department has assured me that they would supply 1,000 saplings,” he said.