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Qawwali concert to raise funds to feed poor patients
While she was residing in Delhi during December 2015, Shilpam Kapur Rathore noticed a woman on the sidewalk on a cold, foggy night, trying to light a kerosene stove to feed her hungry child.
The woman, who was visiting the national capital to get medical treatment for her child, could not afford a meal after spending on the medical procedures.
“The woman mentioned to me that she was spending all her time at the hospital and since she did not have a home in the city, was forced to make a meal on the road itself. I quickly made some pongal at my home and handed the meal to her. The next day, when I went back with 20 meals, I saw so many people who were in need of food at hospitals. I knew I had to do something about it. That was how Aranya Foundation was born in 2015 — to feed the patients and attendants who could not afford food,” recalls Shilpam, the Chairman of the Foundation.
Starting off with 100 meals a day at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, she then took the initiative along with her to Chennai, when she moved down to the city. The Foundation now provides 100 meals every day to destitute patients and their attendants at the Adyar Cancer Institute and Government Ophthalmic Hospital in Egmore. “Most of these patients come to the city from villages and smaller towns and don’t often have any money to spend on their daily meals during the course of their treatment. So, these meals are extremely necessary for them to remain healthy,” she adds.
Stating that Chennaiites have been very willing to contribute their bit in financing the initiative, Shilpam has also been hosting Sufi concerts to raise funds for the cause. As part of their third annual fundraiser, the Foundation will be bringing down the renowned Warsi Brothers of Hyderabad — Nazeer Ahmed Khan Warsi and Naseer Ahmed Khan Warsi —to sing qawwali music in the city. “I realised that qawwali is one form of performing art that has been vanishing from our societies gradually. We don’t get to see them perform in our cities now as we used to earlier. Sufism also appealed to me since it is secular and cuts across all religions, just the way hunger goes beyond races and identities. It seemed to be the right medium to gather people for a cause,” she notes.
With the help of the funds raised from the concert, Shilpam hopes that she can open a kitchen to prepare the meals to cut costs, instead of sourcing them. “We will be able to serve more people if we manage to bring our costs down. I also hope to be able to work with a women’s self-help group for the initiative,” she adds.
Warsi Brothers will be performing in the city on August 28 from 6.30 pm onwards at Hilton in Guindy.