A cancer diagnosis and doctors asking her to stay away from slums did not stop her from feeding thousands in India, and she is continuing her cause amidst the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Delhi-based Anchal Sharma is a cancer survivor, and she is feeding thousands during the lockdown in India.
Sharma runs 'Meals of Happiness Charitable Trust', an NGO that provides free food to the needy across Delhi and Gurugram every day since 2019, when she first started the initiative.
At the age of 32, Sharma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has made a post about her journey and her current cause on Milaap, a crowdfunding website.
“I had just finished my 32nd birthday celebrations when I noticed a lump in my breast. I got an appointment in a hospital, where few tests brought out the clear picture in front of me. I got diagnosed with third stage breast cancer. I thought to myself, ‘But I am yet to live my life. This can’t be it.’ And it wasn’t. The chemotherapies and endless surgeries were extremely daunting, but I held on to hope and tried to live a normal life,” she wrote.
Sharma started distributing free food to children on the streets of Delhi.
“Initially, I used to cook the meal at home with my mother’s help and distribute it to slums kids. Soon people noticed my persistence in helping these kids and offered support in the form of money or volunteering,” her post reads.
Despite going to chemotherapy and battling cancer, Sharma continued to personally visit slum areas and distributed ration and cooked meals.
“It took 11 months for me to recover from cancer. I carried on the food distribution activities through the toughest of times during my cancer journey. Serving meals to the needy and less privileged gave me the strength to overcome these difficult times,” she wrote.
Daily wage workers most affected
Now, as India is under a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sharma is busier than ever. Daily wage labourers and the poor have been hit hard by the lack of work and hunger is prevalent.
Before the lockdown that started on March 25, Sharma was reportedly distributing 500 meals every day.
Currently, the 35-year-old and her team have reportedly started distributing 2000 meals per day.
“Thousands of laborers, tea stall owners, flower sellers, construction workers were left helpless with no income and no way to feed themselves and their families,” her post reads.
The organisation has been working with the local police who help her distribute the food.
“We have had very good support from Delhi Police who has helped us with their on-duty police in distributing food at the right locations where there is the direst need,” she wrote.
Her work is particularly tough during the COVID-19 outbreak because it is important to interact with minimal amount of people to ensure her team’s and the public’s safety as well as curb the spread of the disease.
In a video she has posted on her Milaap page, she said: “For people who have the means to cook food at home, we are giving rations so that they can cook in their own homes. For people who do not have any means of cooking, we are distributing packaged fresh meals.”
Sharma posts regular updates on her social media pages. Taking to her Twitter account, @AnchalSharma85, shared a video of her team distributing meals to the needy, as a volunteer is heard trying to ensure people maintain safe distance while standing in line.
“Cooked meals distribution at Chhatarpur for labours,” she wrote.
According to her Milaap post, every day her team distributes 2000 cooked meals, 500 ration packs, and 1500 fruit bunches every day. “So overall we are able to help 4000 people every day,” she wrote.