‘I Was In Debt, Depressed & Suicidal. I Thought This Was The End’

TW: suicidal thoughts, depression

“I dropped out of engineering college in 2016 and started a small restaurant called Street 16 in my hometown, Sikand, Madhya Pradesh. I had borrowed money from my friends to open the restaurant, but in 2018 I got diagnosed with a skin disease and everything changed then. I couldn’t be near food for health and safety reasons, and I had to keep going to the doctor for treatment. I then had no option to close my restaurant in 2020.

I was 18 lakh in debt, with no way to pay even a single rupee back. I was depressed and suicidal. So I decided to run away to Indore, leaving behind a suicide note for my family. I didn’t know what the future held for me. I reached Indore with only Rs. 500 in hand. I survived on biscuits, slept in railway stations, bus stations, government hospitals and even on the streets. When I didn’t have the means to afford even a single meal, my only source of hope were the langar’s where I got my daily meals from. After days and days of going hungry, I finally found a job as a security guard.

That’s when things started changing for me. I saved as much as I could and somehow managed to get by. I then decided to help all those who have struggled like me. I didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through. I’ve spent so many nights without food, not knowing if I’ll make it to the next day…no one else deserves that. There are so many people going hungry.

I was inspired by the food served at the gurdwara, and I started Hunger Langar in November last year. I sell food for a minimal price and for those who can’t afford it, I give it for free. I know the value of food, it’s one of the most important things right now. The pandemic had already nearly destroyed my life once, and with the second wave this year, countless people were left with nothing. I just want to do everything in my power to help as many people as possible.

Through all of this, my family and friends have been a constant source of strength and support. I’m so grateful to be where I am today. I will continue to ensure that no one goes hungry from Hunger Langar.

- Shivam Soni, Founder, Hunger Langar