With No Money, This 61-Yr-Old Heart Attack Survivor Walked 12,626 Km In India, Sri Lanka & Africa Preaching World Peace

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What can a person alone do for world peace? Pray, preach and practise at most? Now imagine a person, walking 12,626 km in 419 days across the world to preach the message of universal unity. No, I am not talking about everyone’s beloved reel character Forrest Gump. The unbelievable feat has been achieved by 61-year-old Yogesh Mathuria from Mumbai (fondly nicknamed ‘VishwaMitra’) – a former corporate professional who renounced his life of luxury at 50 and has been walking countries after countries since 2013, without any money.

Yogesh Mathuria: Making of the Peace Walker

“In 1966, when I was nine years old, two gentlemen, Satish Kumar and E P Menon came to our home to promote their book – ‘बिना पैसे दुनिया की पैदल सफर’ (Travelling The World On Foot With No Money). As a child, I was astonished to learn that the two friends have walked from Raj Ghat in New Delhi to J F Kennedy’s grave in Washington DC, USA in two years, that too with no money,” Mathuria shares with Efforts For Good.

47 years later, Mathuria, a former IT professional by then, met with the traveller duo once again, seeking advice on how to realise his dream of spreading the message of peace to the world. The erstwhile world travellers advised him to embark on a journey by foot, much like they did in their sunshine years.

On reaching 50, Mathuria felt it was time to put a full stop to the materialistic lifestyle and give something back to the society. He quit his job. His wife’s untimely death played a major part in concreting his deep wishes to inspire and spread the love. Before long, he stepped out of his air-conditioned office room onto the dusty roads.

From Siddhivinayak temple to Sri Lanka

“I already had the habit of walking from home to office and back, which was around 16 km. I decided to extend it up to Siddhivinayak Temple, which was 32 km,” shares Mathuria. He kept on challenging himself and emerged with flying colours in every test he subjected himself to. Soon, he walked from Bombay to Pune, without a penny in his pocket. Retracing Gandhiji’s footsteps, Mathuria walked from Bombay to Ahmedabad to silence his inner doubts. Will the universe be with him if he wanders penniless from town to town with a word of peace in his lips?

Today, he has walked 12,626 km through 18 states in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa. His necessities of food, shelter, clothing and other expenditure, have always been graciously provided by smiling strangers in unknown landscapes, to whom he unfolded a heart full of love and goodwill.

“Whenever I completed one of my journeys, I felt that the universe has responded, urging me to keep trusting the spiritual superpower, always,” asserts the believer in humanism.

An Indian wins African hearts, once again

Till now Yogesh Mathuria’s longest single walk has been from Pune to Sri Lanka and back in 180 days, during 2016-17. The year 2017 halted this wayfarer’s journey for a while, but even two successive heart attacks in May and November 2017 could not dampen his spirit for one second.

“I did not want to sit at home. I thought, one day everyone has to go. And thus, I was back again on the road, this time heading to Africa,” he reveals.

Yogesh Mathuria
Mathuria in Africa

On September 21, 2018, on World Peace Day, Yogesh Mathuria had set out for Africa, accompanied by a team of five spirited individuals like him. In 68 days, the group walked 1,555 kms across the country. “Our Africa walk was to commemorate Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, as well as Nelson Mandela’s 100th. We started from Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, the famous prison where both the leaders have served sentences, in different times. We ended in Mvezo, Mandela’s birthplace where his surviving descendants welcomed us with open arms,” he recalls.

Tattoos that speak his heart

“During a journey, I tend to walk eight to nine hours a day. Keeping aside eight hours for sleep, I mingle with local people the rest of the time,” Yogesh Mathuria added. Two tattoos on his two hands precisely depict the essence of his ideals (Gandhi and Nelson Mandela). The bearer of the phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) on one hand, sports a series of religious symbols on his other hand. “I believe humanity is a confluence of all religions. I have symbols of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism on my hand. I tell people how the humanity is one, divided over time by region and religion,” he tells Efforts For Good. He recounts meeting individuals from the same family following two different religions but staying in harmony.

Yogesh Mathuria
Spreading peace and harmony

The universe with him, always

Mathuria says that the journey to Sri Lanka has restored his belief in humanity, while the Africa tour has strengthened his inner spirituality. “There have been times we have walked 30-35 days at a stretch in Africa without coming across a single person on the road. We have spent nights in police stations, hospitals, fire brigades, five-star hotels or seven-star luxury resorts, all without any money. Everywhere, we have received amazing care and hospitality from people,” he continues, “I realised Bhagwan, Allah, God – whatever name you pray to – the universal superpower guides you always.”

Breaking the myths in a rogue land

It would be unjust to assume that the ‘Peace Walker’s’ journey has been bereft of challenges. He maintains his characteristic calm tone while he narrates the obstacles he overcame. “When we landed in Johannesburg, South Africa, the local people termed us ‘crazy’ upon hearing our plan,” he shares. Standing in a country where on an average 57 murders and 1,200 robberies are reported per day, Mathuria realised how much a word of peace is needed. His team braved all the risks and accomplished their goal without a glitch.

51,000 kms in 6+ years

So, is the modern-day ‘VishwaMitra’ ready to stop yet? Never. Rather, he is farther from retiring than ever before. This upcoming January 12, 2019, on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, Mathuria is all set to set out for Bangladesh, estimating to cover 3,200 kms in 4 months. He wishes to end the tour at the Gandhi Ashram in Noakhali, Bangladesh in May 2019.

Yogesh Mathuria
The man who never tires

Next, he will fly to Japan and traverse the roads from the capital Tokyo to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “I wish to offer prayers for the departed souls on the anniversaries of the bombing days. In total, I have chalked out a plan of covering 5,000 km in the next 7 months,” he details.

You are wrong again if you assume that he is yet to plan beyond that date. He is already gearing up for scripting history by covering 51,000 kms around the world in over 2293 days, starting from 2023. “I also wanted to visit our neighbouring nation, Pakistan, to promote brotherhood and peace. Unfortunately, the requisite documents did not get approval,” he regrets.

Why he started as an individual

The airfares for some of his journeys are sponsored by corporate companies. But, the love shown by commoners is what warms his heart the most.
Yogesh Mathuria started as an individual, but now he has found a few companions in his noble mission. “I believe the change in the society cannot trickle from top to down. It has to come from the bottom level. That was why I started as an individual,” he explains.

Efforts For Good salutes this unsung hero, whose indelible endeavour should resonate in the hearts of Indians for a long, long time to come.

Also Read: Every Month He Fills 60,000 Litres Of Water In Matkas And Quenches The Thirst Of 1,50,000 Delhi Residents

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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