Every day, the destitute in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, eagerly wait for a royal blue Maruti Omni van with the registration number TN-58 X 6219, which is their lifeline. It belongs to Narayanan Krishnan who brings them hot meals three times a day.

For Narayanan, 30, a former chef with Taj Hotels, Bangalore, feeding the destitute is a mission. He has served over 1.8 million meals to the poor in the last ten years through his Akshaya Trust. Krishnan was chosen as one of the top ten world heroes by CNN in 2010.

An award-winning chef, Krishnan had been shortlisted for an elite job in a star hotel in Europe and he was all set to fly. But a chance encounter with a poor man in his home town, Madurai, changed the course of his life. “He was eating his own human waste out of hunger. I bought him idlies from a near by shop and looked at him having it. I had never seen anybody eating so fast. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”, recalls Krishnan.

The pathetic face of that man kept haunting Krishnan and he decided to give up his ambitions and dedicate his life to the poor. What started as a one-man army later grew into Akshaya, the non-profit trust which was founded in 2003.
‘Akshaya’, which in Sanskrit means ‘never ending’, gives three square meals to 450 people at a cost of Rs. 20,000 every day. The Trust, which is run by the youth, maintains proper accounts of everything.

Working round the clock, Krishnan survives with the support of his parents and the small portion of the rental income from his grandfather’s house. Akshaya also receives donations from benefactors. He considers the destitute as his own kith and kin. He hand feeds them and gives them haircuts and beard trims whenever necessary.

“I have seen aged people getting injured while crossing the road, the sick getting attacked by stray dogs while sleeping on the pavement and women in labor pain without anybody to help them. Our rehabilitation centre will give them shelter, medication and care”, says Krishnan who is building a 24,000 sq.ft rehab centre on a 3.5 acre campus, where the inmates would be taught gardening, pickle making and other activities.

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