A joint family of 3 generations living under the same roof. This could sound like the start of a soap opera on Indian television, full of twists and turns, of wicked aunts and scheming uncles. Instead, this family of 15 is the epitome of an ideal family. A family that has proven to be the inspiration and pride of their city.
For the past 50 days the entire Lubana family of 15 persons living together in Chandigarh has been waking up at the crack of dawn, the menu has been decided, chachaji Ranjit Singh has bought all the supplies the previous day from the ‘mandi’, the wood for the fire has been arranged by the older generation Sardara Singh, Kulwant, Gurunam Babaji and eldest uncle Ram Pratap. The cutting chopping washing and cooking have been allotted to Rohit, Makhan Jijaji, Davindar, Ram Pyaara, Nidhi, Manpreet, Simrean Bhabhi, Suresh Chachi, Kamaljit and Narendra. Soon the meals will be ready and the younger kids of the house, Anshu, Mohinder, Ikjyot and Ashtha will dish out the Halva in little bowls made out of leaves. The food will be served by Harish, Raghu, Gurbinder,Bbaljeet, Sanjeev, Ashok and Ramesh. While Rajat, Ajay, Saurabh, Anshu and Satish will make sure that social distancing norms are maintained while distributing food in the lines. And the important aspect of providing funding for this whole service is being taken care of by Nirmal Singh and Rampal Singh. This entire activity of preparing and serving 2500 meals daily is being spearheaded by Manoj, a second-generation Lubana. In a social context, this is an ideal example of participative philanthropy, where each member takes on a role best suited to his skill set and personality. But in reality, they each volunteered for the job they thought they would be good at.
When the lockdown began the Red Cross had started distributing packages of roti and sabzi in the area but the needy far outnumbered the resources. The Red Cross needed to upsize their operations to keep up. Just seeing the sheer number of hungry and dejected faces was heart-wrenching, so Manoj and his family decided to step in.
The family was not new to community service. The Lubana household was known for their charity and helpful nature.They often had people visiting them with requests for help and they would also organise langar in the local gurudwara every couple of months. However their decision to organise a mass food distribution drive, would be very very different from the social work they were already doing. The sheer scale and duration of the commitment of providing for hundreds of hungry people on a daily basis though daunting did not deter them. Knowing fully well that it would not be easy the family decided to take on the task. What helped the Lubanas to continue the feeding was the help that the people around were willing to offer. Twice a week the neighbours helped in the laborious task of making the chapatis which was a big help.
When asked why the Lubanas decided to take on such a big responsibility Manoj replied that, “it just came naturally, when we saw the people hungry there was no option but to step in. No one should be hungry! The people who line up at our place for food are not doing it by choice. I sincerely believe that no one wants to eat for free,they would rather work for their living. No one deserves to starve is what we learnt from our elders.”
The Lubanas relentlessly carried on with their community kitchen for 50 days. Each day 2500 meals were prepared using their own funding. When asked about the expenditure the family was modest enough to not disclose the sum spent but one can easily calculate that the amount has run into lakhs.
As the lockdowns were being eased the lines at his doorstep began thinning out and people were slowly inching their way back to normalcy. But Manoj knows that the post lockdown world will be very different.People will take time to get back on their feet and till then even if his food service will not be needed, he has some ideas to help people recover their lost livelihoods and will be working on them.
Manoj and his family are heroes, true sons and daughters of the soil. Just as our jawans keep our borders safe, unrecognised citizen-soldiers are keeping the motherland alive. They are setting an example by their service and restoring our faith in humanity and God. The family has shown us an exemplary will and work in these trying times. And just seeing the enthusiasm of the younger kids dishing out the halwa in the leaf bowls, we know that as long as the baton of doing good is passed on to the young ones we will be alright.
The lockdowns are nearly over but there will be no dearth of things to do to help. The Lubana’s were self-sufficient. They had all the resources they needed to carry out the project within their house. Most of us don’t have all the resources but only the will to serve. For those kinds of people it is imperative that a platform is provided to learn about philanthropic projects around them.This gives them an opportunity to either contribute or join in. If you have such a movement going on or if you know of such a social Hero do send us a brief report on https://givingcircle.in/report/ the more people know about such causes the more can join in.