Abandoned, penniless, famished and the curious, Maqbool Mansoori’s ‘langer-e-aam’ in Bhopal have served and satisfied all.
A ‘free food’ initiative, that took flight two years back from a modest corner the Nadra bus stand in Bhopal, now feeds more than 250 people daily.
“It is in our tradition to feed the hungry. I am just an instrument,” says middle-aged Mansoori, as he hands out food pouches to people standing eagerly in a queue to eat from his hearth.
“In the beginning many people were sceptical and thought it (langar-e-aam) was not feasible, but I wanted to do something positive. There is no greater joy than in feeding the hungry. I feel satisfied that despite hiccups there has not been a single day when the food has not been served (to the needy) in the last two years,” he tells Hindustan Times.
Owner of an eatery stall, Mansoori initially kept aside a part of his earnings to feed the poor.
But as the initiative became popular, many other Good Samaritans joined horses with him.
“Initially, I used my personal resources...But as people saw a free meal service was being run with good intentions, they came forward to help. Several people donate oil, rice or wheat in bulk,” he adds.
Over the last two years, the free meal scheme has caught the eyes of many reaching the city on bus.
“I came to Bhopal in search of work but couldn’t do much. I also lost my bag and money, so I came to this place,” says Ajay Ekka, a Jabalpur resident, while having dinner from langar-e-aam.
A long-time assistant of Mansoori, Gulfam Khan, says: “People from all cross-sections of the society, irrespective of their political affiliations, have supported the scheme.”
After two years of serving people selflessly, Mansoori now wants to start langar-e-aam at two biggest hospitals of the city — Hamidia Hospital and Sultania Zenana Hospital.
“There are a large number of poor and needy patients who come for treatment to the two hospitals from far and wide. Often they have to stay beyond their plan and run out of money. My wish is only to help them,” the philanthropist says.