Whenever we hit a bump in the road, our first instinct is to complain. In case something terrible happens, it is human tendency to soak in self-misery, and blame the world. But there are few like Chinu Kwatra, who has not just come out of tragedy, but managed to transform that pain into something kind, something beautiful.
When we spoke to him about Roti Ghar, we realised that he is a talker and can keep you engaged in a conversation for a while, before you know that it has been hours talking, surrounded with kids who adore him. His real name is Jeet, but his family calls him Chinu, but as he grew up, he tells us that the name stuck and now the whole world knows him by his nickname. It is hard to imagine when he tells us that once upon a time his English was not nearly as good as it is now. Chinu is now considered as one of the city’s youth icons who has initiated several social causes, and also has support pouring in from celebrities.
His NGO Khushiyaan foundation now feeds hundreds of underprivileged children daily across several centres in the city. It may seem perfect, but everything was never this rosy for him. Chinu has seen several hardships in life and has come out as a man with mettle, strength and a kindness that the world today needs.
Chinu’s family faced a financial crisis, and he had to help his mother run a dhaba to put food on their table. He fell in love with a girl then, who supported him in getting fluent in the language and also encouraged him to get into an MBA program. However, life was not very kind to him as the girl he loved passed away in an accident. It was a gut-wrenching, deeply painful time for him as he fought depression and suicidal thoughts.
Few months later, with the support of his family he began to see things differently, wanting to change everything he felt strongly about. One was environment, and the other, education of underprivileged kids.
“We recently celebrated 500 days of Roti Ghar, where we had actors Javed Jaffery and Ayub Khan as our chief guests. When we had started, the kids who went to school were about 10 per cent of what they are now, and we faced a lot of flak for providing free meals to kids,” Chinu tells us.
Roti Ghar offers basic foods that has proteins and carbs like daal and rice, or chapatis to kids after school. Started in December 2017, Roti Ghar is about eradicating malnutrition and encouraging kids to not just eat healthy but finish their education too. “Our volunteers visit the slums daily to feed the kids. There are a total of 11 centres out of which four centres across Thane and Airoli provide food to kids daily while seven others are on a weekly basis,” Chinu says, adding that now, the schools near which the kids get food served by volunteers have a 100% increase in numbers of attendees. More than 500 kids are being fed daily and hundreds more on weekly basis.
Chinu Kwatra has been mentioned for his beach clean-up efforts in Limca Book of Records and was recently felicitated internationally in Thailand. Apart from Roti Ghar, Chinu also has other social causes and projects he works o n – Beach Warriors, Naari Shakti and Project Pathshaala. “It is extremely humbling to see people show so much love and support these kids. The kids will define the world tomorrow and they cannot do so on an empty stomach. I believe that there are only two things we can heal the world with – love and food – and I intend to feed as many children as I can so the ‘Khushiyaan’ can keep spreading,” Chinu smiles.