MITTI Cafe had an innovative idea that helps and empowers thousands of people struggling with hunger, abandonment and disabilities. These three issues are among the most difficult to deal with if there is no support from people or organizations, including a food NGO. Food and personal support are some of the most basic resources a person needs to live to their fullest potential. Without this, their health deteriorates, their means of survival are cut off and their access to education and employment opportunities are limited. This places them in a vulnerable situation where there is greater chance of abuse and exploitation. 

Mitti Cafe‘s unique and innovative solution is to train people with disabilities to prepare meals which are then distributed to abandoned elders who are suffering from hunger and starvation. Called the Karuna Meals initiative, this food NGO provides employment opportunities to people with disabilities and supports senior citizens who have been thrown out of their homes and onto the streets. From the time the food NGO began its amazing work, Mitti Cafe has empowered more than 4,000 people with disabilities from marginalized communities and served over 10 million meals to people suffering from isolation and starvation. 

What does Mitti Cafe do?

Mitti Cafe is a food NGO that runs more than 35 cafes across India which serve delicious food while employing people with disabilities and giving them livelihood support. The food NGO also prepares freshly cooked nutritious meals and food rations that are given to senior citizens from underprivileged backgrounds. The food support that Mitti Cafe provides to abandoned elders takes care of their basic necessities and addresses one of the most crippling issues in their lives: loneliness and the lack of affection. In receiving meals from the food NGO, these abandoned elders are assured that they are not alone and help is always at hand. 

“There are countless senior citizens in extremely backward villages in the Sundarbans in West Bengal. When we found these elders, we saw that they had not had a proper meal in days. We have seen people eating food from the garbage because of extreme hunger”, shares Ayesha Alam of Mitti Cafe. Ayesha goes on to share that “our elders don’t deserve this life and it is our responsibility to come to their aid. If we come together we can ease the suffering of hundreds of people battling hunger and starvation.” This is Mitti Cafe’s mission, which is a source of hope for countless people who need a helping hand. 

four poor women sitting on the ground

Empowering the disabled  

There are millions of people with disabilities in India. While the actual numbers vary, it can be estimated that there are a minimum of 40 million people with disabilities, according to The World Bank. That means that tens of millions of people require access to resources and services to live their lives in a self-sufficient manner with full access to their rights. These rights include education and employment which are often denied to people with disabilities because of a lack of investment in these services. 

For underprivileged disabled people, there are even less services available. It is difficult for poor children with mental or learning disabilities to find schools that serve their needs. This deprives them of an academic foundation to secure jobs in the future and become financially independent. For those with physical disabilities from poor backgrounds, schools, colleges or public transport often lack disability access and this affects and even prevents their studies, work and even movement. 

With the support of Mitti Cafe, individuals with disabilities have access to skill development and employment opportunities, allowing them to take their lives into their own hands and carve out futures for themselves in which they are in the driver’s seat and can enjoy a life of independence. 

a person distributing food rations to an elderly woman

Supporting the abandoned 

It is projected that 1/5th of India’s population will be above the age of 60 by the year 2050, according to a study conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). There are currently more than 100 million senior citizens in India. Like all senior citizens, elders from poor backgrounds also need help and assistance to cope with the changing conditions of life. This includes access to basic needs such as adequate food and nutrition to ensure their aging bodies have enough strength to prevent muscle loss, bone deterioration and other issues related to old age.

But across India, there are increasing cases of senior citizens being abandoned by their own children. Many aging parents are harassed and abused by their children who want finances or property to be transferred to them. In other cases, children are no longer interested in caring for their aged parents and kick them out of the house. Homeless, these aged parents roam the streets without food or medicine, at an age when nutrition and medical care is of prime importance. 

Because of Mitti Cafe’s food support, abandoned elders now have food rations and nutritious food to prevent them from suffering or perishing due to hunger. The food NGO helps senior citizens with not just their nutritional needs, but also comforts their mind after the pain of abandonment by their own families. 

Support Mitti Cafe’s effort to empower the marginalized 

“People with disabilities who were once discriminated against are now at the forefront of the fight to save abandoned elders from hunger.” To help the food NGO support two marginalized groups of people with food support, you can donate here:

Donate to Mitti Cafe


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