An automobile salesperson for 17 years, Sarita Kashyap did not have enough funding to start a non-profit organization but she had the intent to serve the poor and needy with her limited means. Life had offered her various struggles but Sarita was determined to not dwell in the sympathy of others. Instead, she started her own Rajma Chawal stall with her limited savings. In her own words, she is not an efficient cook. She knows to make only a few dishes in the kitchen but one thing that she does not lack is her self-confidence and readiness to tread on any path ignoring the inhibitions implanted by society.
After leaving her job in the automobile sector in 2019, she indulged herself in the field of Network Marketing for some time and lost all her savings in that. She could not be successful in that field because it needs her to resort to dishonest means, which were against her ethics. When she started her makeshift food stall – ApnaPann Rajma Chawal, she did not even have enough utensils to make food and carry it from her home in MeeraBagh to PeeraGarhi bus depot in west Delhi. She travels in her scooter, which has a portable table and carriers, where she carefully places large drums of steaming Rajma-Chawal. Sarita loves driving and wishes to buy and drive a jeep someday, which, according to her, can be used both for her personal and business purpose.
Kashyap starts her day at 4 a.m. After finishing her household chores, she prepares Rajma Chawal, salad, and chatni for around 100 people. At around 11:30 a.m., she starts operating her stall at PeeraGarhi Bus Depot. The stall runs for around 3-4 hours. As she sets up her stall at the bus stop, the local slum children wait at one side of her stall to feast on delicious rajma chawal in aunty’s stall. Due to the taste of her food, her kind behavior, and welcoming manner, and her honest initiative to feed hungry road children, rag pickers, and homeless people, the entire food is consumed fast, and generally, by 2 pm, Sarita closes her food stall. She manages the operations single-handedly.
Within four months of its commencement, ApnaPann’s food has become well known in the locality and hungry customers line up at the location even before Sarita arrives. With half-plate priced at Rs. 40 and full at Rs. 60, Sarita’s Rajma Chawal is a delicacy accompanied by homemade chatni and onion salad. Her daily income was around Rs. 3,000-Rs 4,000 before lockdown. She spends a larger portion of it on providing free food to street kids. She feeds her customers and hungry road children waiting in separate queues at the same time.
Feeding the underprivileged motivates Sarita to go on with her laborious daily duty. “I sell a minimum of 100 boxes a day out of which almost 60 percent is sold to paying customers and the rest is served for free to the children and homeless people,” says Sarita. Inspired by her selfless act, many people donate money to feed hungry people on their behalf. Kashyap has also been trying to educate these street children through some basic tutoring. She admits the difficulties in doing so, but she is determined to help them dream a better future. Thanking social media, Sarita says, it has played a huge part in her success. After leaving her job, she used to follow lots of motivational speakers on social media. When she started the food stall, she did not have enough resources to feed enough street children as she needed to survive and save money for her college-going daughter with that income alone. With more people assembled in her stall due to her work being promoted on social media, Sarita is now able to feed a good number of hungry people for free at her food stall.
Apart from providing free food, Kashyap plans to empower women by providing them with an opportunity to set up their own food stalls. Sarita is working on the idea to supply her homemade food to unemployed women who would then set up their stalls which will function on the same lines as hers. It will give a sense of fulfillment to her to see more and more women feeding the hungry while being able to earn. She is now planning to start a home delivery segment of Apna Pann Rajma Chawal soon and is working on acquiring the prerequisite food licenses. “If you can’t do the great things, do small things in a great way” – West Delhi’s Sarita Kashyap is a living example of that.