Madurai, India (CNN) — Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything.
“I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan said. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”
Krishnan was visiting a temple in the south Indian city of Madurai in 2002 when he saw the man under a bridge. Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny.
“That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame — to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves,” Krishnan said.
Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — to India’s homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused.
“Because of the poverty India faces, so many mentally ill people have been … left uncared [for] on the roadside of the city,” he said.
Mission of Akshaya
Committed Care for,
Helpless, forsaken, mentally ill, old, sick,
living and dying in the streets of Madurai –
by providing healthy food, love and
opportunity to rehabilitate,
Restoring human dignity.
AKSHAYA’S HELPING IN H.E.L.P. TRUST
New Delhi: If you had not heard of Narayanan Krishnan, as I had not, it is a collective failure. This is one of the most incredible stories of personal commitment.
Narayanan Krishnan, all of 29 years old now, does what he was professionally trained to do as a chef. Feed people. Only Krishnan does not do this in the swanky confines of a 5-star hotel. Every day, he wakes up at 4 am, cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 200 km feeding the homeless in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Krishnan feeds, often with his hands, almost 400 destitute people every day. And for those who need it, he provides a free haircut too.
According to CNN, eight years ago, this award-winning chef with a five-star hotel chain was all set to go to Switzerland for a high-profile posting. On a visit to a Madurai temple, he came across a homeless, old man eating his own human waste. That stark sight changed Krishnan’s life.
Much to the dismay of his parents, CNN says, Krishnan abandoned his career plans and decided to spend his life and his professional training in looking after those who could not care for themselves. He has provided more than 1.2 million hot meals through his nonprofit organisation Akshaya Trust, and now hopes to extend this to shelter for the homeless too.
Krishnan is the only Indian in a list of 10 heroes that CNN has picked worldwide to honour. One of them will be chosen CNN Hero of the Year, selected by the public through an online poll. If many Indians get together to vote for this inspiring man, he can win by a long mile.
If Krishnan wins he will get $100,000 in addition to the $25,000 that he gets for being shortlisted for the Top 10. Akshaya Trust needs all the monetary support it can get to build on Krishnan’s dream. Let’s help him get there.
Vote for Krishnan here.
The poll continues through November 18 at 6 a.m. ET.