Mark D’Souza: The Food Evangelist for Elders
Mark D’Souza from Mumbai delivers food to needy senior citizens in the Borivili area. And he offers the service for free. Food is often a big worry for many senior citizens, especially those in frail health. You need to go out, buy groceries and cook, simple tasks which can sometimes become big and tiresome chores for someone with mobility and health issues. For the last three years, this worry has disappeared for about 25 to 30 senior citizens living in and around IC Colony, Borivili in Mumbai. Mark D’Souza, a local businessman with interests in real estate, has been delivering ‘dabbas’ or food packed in a tiffin carrier to them, every day of year, come rain or hot sun, with a smile. Most of the elderly D’Souza serves live on their own or suffer from ill health. His service, done completely free of cost, has changed the lives of many of the senior citizens he has come into contact with, giving them something to look forward to during their day.
The yearning to serve perhaps comes from the fact that D’Souza lost his mother at a very early age. The idea to provide food to the elderly came to him rather suddenly. D’Souza spoke to his wife Yvonne about it and before he knew it, she had taken out Rs 5000 out of the money she had earned through tuitions and had asked him to start. Their maid Geeta too chipped in with an offer to cook, D’Souza procured few tiffin carriers and was all set to start.
Initially, D’Souza found out about senior citizens in need of help through the IC Colony Women’s Welfare Association. Gradually, people started approaching him for help. “A young boy working in a call centre asked me to help as he was taking care of his mother who was deaf and a disabled uncle. To make ends meet he was doing extra work and did not have time to cook, so I started delivering two tiffins to his home.” Characteristically, D’souza offered the service for free, something the struggling young man could not believe. His is not the only story. D’Souza has helped out not just senior citizens but also other people in need of help with his tiffin service.
“Till date I have never counted the money I have spent,” says D’Souza, a little bemused by the fact that people keep asking him how much he spends on providing this free service. “By God’s grace, I have enough. What will I do by accumulating wealth?” he asks, adding, “God has blessed me with money. I like helping people so will continue to do so.”
D’Souza delivers the tiffins personally everyday between 12 pm to 2.30 pm. The tiffins carry nutritious food with low salt and oil, in keeping with the dietary requirements of many senior citizens. A regular tiffin or dabba has rice, dal, chapati and a vegetable dish, enough to last the seniors throughout the day. On Sundays, the menu can include non-vegetarian food as well. Sometimes, there are special treats in store too. The day I spoke to him, D’Souza had served Biryani and Ice Cream.
The 58-year-old D’Souza has always had the complete support of his family in his humanitarian work. His wife runs a nursing service and has been a huge support. People have approached D’Souza with offers of donation and help once his story became known courtesy the media but so far, nothing major has come in.
D’Souza however remains unfazed and determined to carry on with his work. “I do not want material goods or riches. I strongly believe that God provides and opens doors for us. If you are doing anything with a good intention, that work won’t have any obstacle or a problem.”
Providing for the elderly gives him the greatest pleasure and a sense of peace. Not to mention the smiles and blessings he receives from the many senior citizens he serves. “They say, thank you and God bless when I deliver the tiffins everyday. Many of them wait eagerly for the food and to talk,” he adds. The blessings and the smiles, keep this extraordinary man going about doing something that is clearly nothing short of a miracle for many seniors. Silver Talkies salutes his unbelievable energy, spirit and generousity. We hope he is able to continue for many years to come.
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