In the last few weeks, Sheikh Ahmed who runs a tiny roadside hotel near Doddaballapur bypass signal on Devanahalli highway with his family, has been unusually busy.
The 49-year-old, who is lovingly called ‘Babu’, has opened the doors of his tiny eatery, called ‘Tippu Star Hotel’, to provide free food and water to the weary and hungry migrants and their families treading the hard path to their villages in Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Sheikh Ahmed’s mission does not end at providing food and water to these hapless workers. He helps them get transport by convincing commercial truck drivers plying on the route to drop them at the borders.
“I was moved by the plight of the hungry and tired migrant workers and their families who were going back to their hometowns by foot or on cycles after the lockdown restrictions were lifted partially. These migrants came from Bengaluru as well as Tumakuru, Doddaballapur and Hoskote,” he says.
“I provide them whatever I prepare in my hotel as well as bread, biscuits and water. I try to help them monetarily as well, although they are very shy to take it,” he says.
The now jobless migrants also share their woes with him. “Some of them told me that they have not received payment for the work done. Some have lost their jobs while some have been asked to go back home,” says the father of six children, who also takes care of a disabled young relative.
Sheikh Ahmed also convinces those migrants, whose families have pregnant women and infants, to go back to where they have come from since they are not in a condition to travel. He sends them to shelter homes.
“I make them understand the perils of walking such long distances, sometimes even through forests. Before they board the trucks, I make sure that they wear masks,” he says.
After people came to notice this humanitarian mission of his, many volunteer organisations have joined hands with him, helping out with the rations and other essential supplies. When the numbers become too many to handle, Sheikh Ahmed seeks the help of volunteers.
His entire family is involved in the aid work.
Sheikh Ahmed considers the migrants as his brothers and their family as his own and has no qualms about doing this day after day, even as the number of migrants keeps rising.
“Till my last breath, I will go on helping those who come to me,” he says. “There is always food and a space to rest at my small place,” he adds.