By: Shekhar Bhagat, Senior Sales Manager, ISV/ OEM Business, Salesforce APAC
About 1 in 9 people don’t have enough food to live a healthy active life. That’s 795 million people according to United Nations World Food Programme. Here in India, that is a big problem.
Taking this into account, a team at Salesforce has started an internal movement called ‘cook and feed the needy’; a baby step towards tackling hunger and making the world a better place. Employees at Salesforce India are pledging to cook and feed 1,000 under-privileged, disabled, HIV or other chronically diseased kids by January 2017, with the goal of making those kids lives just a little bit nicer, and hopefully sharing a few smiles on the way.
We’ve already had three volunteering days – 42 volunteers, feeding 145 kids, logging 290 volunteer hours!
The ‘Spark’ – a visit to Desire Society
It all started after a volunteer activity at Desire Society, an organization based in Bangalore that cares for orphaned and abandoned children (3-11yrs) infected with HIV. After the activity we all reflected and shared a common sentiment – how young and innocent these children were, and how they don’t even understand what it means to have HIV.
We all thought – “could we do something to help, and if so, what would we do.”?
Desire Society isn’t funded by any state or central government and don’t have sufficient funds to provide a high level of living standard; forget proper meals. So we thought – how about, instead of giving them money, why don’t we cook for the children and make sure they’ve something to look forward to every now and again.
We developed a plan, spoke to Desire Society and set a date for a test run – this would be our pilot!
Team work and Cheer
Now, I’m sure cooking Indian cuisine sounds very interesting – but I’ll tell you it isn’t easy. The preparation is complex, time consuming and involves a lot of effort, especially for people without expertise.
Hijacking the cramped kitchen, we rolled up our sleeves and started an exemplary demonstration of our culinary skills. The next 4 hours were indeed fun; we managed with what utensils were at our disposal, and helped each other as much as we could.
Lunch time at Desire Society
The kids were seated with their plates, ready to pray and thank ‘Lord Almighty’ for the meal. They were treated to a menu of Dal Tadka, Aloo Jeera, Egg Masala, Green Salad, Raita and Kheer and were so excited by the thoughts of it. Our volunteers served the food and helped the younger ones eat – everyone had a joyous day and the memories will linger long after.
Mr. Subhash, Vice President at Desire Society said: ‘’Thank you very much for your visit and self prepared food sponsored for the children at Desire on August 27, 2016. The children enjoyed the food and your support carries great meaning in the life of these innocent kids who are battling for survival on a daily basis. We look forward to your continuous support in the interest of the well being of the HIV infected kids, till we can serve them.’’
We haven’t stopped… the momentum continues!
Next stop was Surabhi Foundation, an NGO that is home to many orphaned and abandoned kids. They focus on education and basic needs to empower the kids for a better tomorrow. We did two similar events at Surabhi Foundation in September 2016, cooking and feeding the malnourished kids and saw the volunteers turn up in large numbers.
Mr. Niranjan, Donation Manager at Surabhi Foundation said: ‘’the food was awesome; the kids usually don’t eat like this. I am surprised to see how they sat and ate. Can you do it again? We will have more day scholars too and our entire staff if this is over a weekend. Thank you again for sponsoring a self prepared meal, this is overwhelming.’’
We have six more planned events for October, November and December; we’re getting so much closer to our goal of 1,000 meals!
‘Moves my Soul’
I have been with Salesforce for just over 3 years and take great pride in our culture. This initiative (cook and feed the needy) is very dear to me, the joy and happiness is something I can never quantify, it just moves my soul…no monetary tags, so pure, so real.
Hear from volunteers at Salesforce working on the Feed the Needy program…
Kiran Kumar – Sr. Manager Sales Enablement, Salesforce APAC – “You need to see the satisfaction and happiness on a child’s face post lunch to understand the difference you can make by cooking for them, I truly believe that volunteering gives you back much more that what you give in.”
Nirmalya Mohanty– Senior ISV Partner Account Manager, Salesforce, APAC – ‘’We don’t feed the kids, we feed our souls instead. This activity has been a humbling experience for me, like never before. In our worldly quests we often forget to stop by and watch out for people around us but that’s against the tenets of humanity. Staying indifferent is worse than being ignorant. When I look at the kids relishing the simple food we cook for them the feeling is immensely rewarding. Those few hours fly by but the happy smiles get etched in memory forever. The activity also brings the team together for some fun filled time, team show, yummy food and makes us champion citizens. There’s an urge in me to tell people around me to feed the needy around them. Let’s keep the good work going and growing. We have miles to go with thousands 1000 kids as the first milestone.’’
Prakhar Kamal – Sales Representative, Salesforce – “Cooking is a process that I enjoy thoroughly, especially for others, be it friends or family. This combined with the sweet gesture of bringing a smile on a kids face, had been by far the most fulfilling ways of giving back to the society.”
Kalki Yesas – Senior Director, Salesforce Services – “The best joy is the joy of giving’, we had an opportunity to come together as a team and cook a meal for about 30 kids at Surabhi foundation. Beyond the team work and camaraderie and the ability to observe the goodness of your fellow colleague’s hearts the real satisfaction in this activity came from seeing the smiles on the faces of the children as they asked for second helpings and ate to their contentment albeit for one meal. I’ve observed firsthand the food that is served to them on any regular day and to be able to participate in making a special meal come to life for even a day was an immensely gratifying experience. We’ve all felt hunger but to some it’s not much of a choice and the ability of ‘those with more’ to make a difference to ‘those with less’ defines us as caring, loving thoughtful beings. To be able to extend this activity into a pledge to feed a 1000 meals created a stronger sense of purpose to what we do for similar under privileged children this year.”
Andrea Gaspar – Enterprise Business Development Representative, Salesforce – “While we worked as a team and had so much fun while cooking a meal for the kids, seeing them enjoy it was the most fulfilling part. I would love to volunteer for more of such initiatives.”
Sindhura Gujja and Aditya Sharma – Solution Engineers, Salesforce – “What’s amazing is just how much heart these kids have. Amazingly joyful, and wonderfully well behaved, they happily ate up everything we served. We had a wonderful time cooking for them, and it was even better watching them eat. The NGOs have done an exceptional job of making a good environment for these kids, and it’s great to see the entire Salesforce family getting together to make this happen. Let’s hope we have many more such amazing days full of food and laughter!”