On a scorching summer day, what one needs most is a glass of water to quench one’s thirst. Alagarathanam Natarajan, a 69-year-old man is on a thirst-quenching mission to help people who can’t spend 20 rupees every day for a bottle of water.
From being a cancer survivor and a businessman from London, he is popularly known as ‘Matka Man’.
Every morning before dawn, he steps out in his van to fill 80-100 matkas to rescue people from the unbearable heat. He says, “While delivering water, it feels like I am quenching the thirst of poverty.”
He lived in London for 32 years and ran a joke and souvenir shop in Oxford Street.
“I was 21-year-old when I left India but I have always wanted to come back to my country and do something for my people,” he says.
What inspired him?
After giving up his business in Britain, he wanted to start a “revolution in human kindness”. He believes that people lack compassion and kindness. He wanted to start by helping the domestic helpers and guards who work for us.
He says, “Delhi is thirsty. I am using matkas to provide drinking water to poor people. I have developed and set up more than 15 matka stands in my neighborhood in South Delhi. The stands have a sign with my telephone number, so people can notify me when a matka is empty, and a bench when there’s space. The matkas need around 2,000 liters a day in the summer months. The water is supplied by a school nearby and two kind souls. The rest I supplement from my own home.”
Matka Man was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer and then he decided to help others by getting involved in lots of social work. He is also associated with a terminal cancer center.
How did it all begin?
In 2014, he realized that something as basic as cold drinking water wasn’t accessible to all even in the national capital. So he decided to put a water cooler outside his house.
Once he even asked a guard that why did he come to take water from the water cooler outside the house and not from the workplace. The guard replied that they don’t provide water.
This shocked him and also inspired him to do something about it.
From rickshaw pullers to street vendors, he tries to serve the thirsty, homeless and destitute. He has also placed 100 cycle pumps in his neighborhood to give poor people the flexibility to fill the air.
People used to consider him as someone appointed from Government. But he works through his pension and life savings. His family also supports him in this. He believes that as a community we must care for one another.
We need such social workers because they help the arc of the moral universe bend toward justice.
Image Credits: Google Images