Asif Kamal has helped about 1,000 migrant labourers from his home state of Bihar reach their homes, and has provided ration to more than 10,000 needy families. His efforts continue
“I know what it is like to be poor and underprivileged. I don’t want the next generation to undergo something that I have endured in my childhood, so I want to do something for them. I know I cannot do it for everybody, but I can at least make an honest effort for my region,” said Asif Kamal, a resident of Supaul district of Bihar, who heads the Alturash Group, a Dubai-based multinational company.
Asif runs art galleries in Dubai and at the DLF Mall in Delhi. Having experienced poverty in his childhood, Asif, today, has established himself firmly in the world of art and business on the strength of his struggles. Although his company is doing very well, he was not satisfied in his personal life, wealth and fame notwithstanding. He had always desired to help and serve the disadvantaged and poor people of his region.
He got this opportunity during the lockdown caused due to coronavirus pandemic when lakhs of migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were trapped in different metros of the country and began moving towards their homes on foot. During this time, Asif had sent hundreds of migrant labourers from Supaul and Puraniya districts, who were stranded in Delhi NCR, to their villages by buses that were organized by his organization – the Asif Kamal Foundation. Besides shouldering the entire cost of their transportation, proper food arrangements were made for the labourers by the foundation.
Asif and his institution continue to lend a helping hand to the migrant labourers of Bihar stranded in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Rajasthan by providing them ration. In addition, they are also providing ration, medicines and other essential items to the needy people in his home district Supaul during the difficult times of the lockdown. They have so far reached more than 10,000 families and the work is continuing. Cash money has also been sent by the institution to the accounts of several needy people.
Asif said: “I don’t want more people to undergo the hardships I had faced in my difficult days. Since now I am able to help people, I am doing it. I don’t consider it to be a ‘help’, but a ‘service’. I am only giving back what I have found from the people of my area.”
Asif’s childhood was spent in acute poverty. His father is a postman in the village’s post office. Asif studied from a government school and came to Delhi from Bihar after Class 12th. He pursued his higher studies and also took up a job to survive in Delhi. Asif recalled: “My first job was that of a salesman in The Shopper Stop, where I sold glasses in a showroom. I used to get Rs 4,000 a month and I used to survive on this amount. Thereafter, I also had worked at a call centre.”
Asif started his own business after his studies and began to trade utensils from the Gulf and African countries. In the meantime, he found some people who were very interested in art and culture. Asif felt he could do good in this area, so he first opened his art gallery in Dubai and then in Delhi. After 10 long years of struggle, Asif had established himself in the field.
But as they say that history repeats itself, something similar had happened to Asif. After reaching Dubai, Asif wanted to return to his home Supaul to help meet the needs of its people in terms of infrastructure, food, housing, health, education and employment. For this, he had prepared a detailed roadmap under which he wished to start an affordable educational institution, a charitable hospital and cottage industry for employment in one campus. He had hoped to begin it this year, but the corona outbreak put a pause on his dream.
Nevertheless, not wanting to lose upon his thrust of interest, Asif decided to help the labourers and needy people trapped due to the lockdown. Asif pointed out that he faced a little difficulty in the beginning becaudecided to help the labourers and needy people trapped due to the lockdowse due to the lockdown as all movement was restricted. He, however, conveyed his intention to the local authorities in Delhi NCR and Supaul and appealed for administrative assistance in the relief work. Gradually, a number of people joined hands to help him with his initiative, including the Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav and Dhirendra Singh, the BJP MLA from Jewar, Noida.
Sharing an anecdote, Asif pointed out that when his team was taking 15 buses with migrant labourers of his home district to Bihar from Seelumpur in Delhi, they were stopped by the police on the Noida-Delhi border. He had then appealed to local MLA Dhirendra Singh on Twitter for help. Asif said that Dhirendra Singh took cognizance of the matter immediately and all the buses had left at the next daybreak. Asif said that he was greatly helped by social media platforms too.
“Many people sought help through social media and were helped by us. Many people come forward to volunteer through social media and seek to join us. In addition, a number of friends from Dubai also had made an appeal on social media to be brought to India from Dubai. They were also helped and they are now safe at their homes in India,” he informed.
On asking about the roadmap ahead, Asif said that after the corona period, he wants to move towards his dream and goal for which he has forsaken the life of Dubai and Delhi. He said that apart from this, should there be a flood in his area this year, like every other year, his entire team will assist common people during the natural calamity. On the question of coming to politics, he said that he has no such motive now and he only wants to focus on serving the people presently.