Spreading joy through ‘Food for 1000 Children Programme’

Shri Ram Mandir

In this picture taken on October 23, 2016, faithful say a prayer during the inauguration of Shri Ram Mandir at the Cuttchi Gujarati Hindu Union temple in Nakuru. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

For the last 15 years, more than 1,400 children in approximately 26 children’s homes have had their needs fully catered for, thanks to Sri Ayyappa Seva Samaj.

The organisation has over the years provided food, vegetables, baking flour, grains, beans and other basic items to children living in homes in various counties.

The organisation, which was founded more than three decades ago in Nairobi, started as bhajan group of devotees of Lord Ayyappa, who is the mythological son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

Lord Ayyappa is also referred to as Annadhana Prabhu, which means he ensures that no one goes hungry intensified efforts of generosity with increased support from donors.

In 2002, the Samaj with the presiding deity Lord Ayyappa led the building of the temple at the Ram Mandir premises on Bhanderi road in Parklands. After the construction of the temple, true to the tenet of Lord Ayyappa, the Managing Committee and Trustees of the Samaj began the Anna Dhanam programme in 2005.

One of the most generous Kenyan philanthropists, Jayesh Saini said: “It is our small but sincere effort to improve the economic mobility of the well-deserving Kenyan children who are the future of our nation.” 

Destitute children

He further added that crowdsourcing through institutions of goodwill, like the Ayyappa Samaj is a modern and smart way to address specific societal issues with specific solutions.

From about five homes for destitute children within Nairobi County, the programme gained momentum with efforts of committee and devotees over a period of time and the number of children receiving the donations (anna dhanam) increased rapidly to approximately 1000, an achievement that saw the programme christened ‘Food For 1000 Children Programme.’

The efforts by Jayesh were fully backed by among others donations from corporates and individuals who wholeheartedly gave a lot of support. The programme has continued to help even some homes outside Nairobi. 

In addition to the food programme, the Samaj has assisted many with wheelchairs, school fees and many more donations. As part of the efforts of the community, the Samaj made available one oxygen concentrator to the Hindu Council of Kenya.

However, this year, the celebrations were hampered by the challenges brought by the pandemic. Corporates, devotees and individuals chipped in with food donations.