Narayanan Krishnan was an award-winning chef with Taj Hotels, and had been offered a prestigious job in Switzerland. But in 2002, after witnessing the horrific effects of extreme poverty in his native India, Krishnan turned down the job and instead devoted his time and energy to helping feed the poverty-stricken and those struggling with mental illness through his organization, Akshaya Home. Here is an excerpt from his Winners’ Circle interview in a previous issue of The Edge: A Leaders’ Magazine.
How can people get involved in your cause and fight for the homeless?
Charity begins at home. Every family needs to teach compassion and giving to their children. To transform our country and society, everyone needs to look out for one another.
Your organization serves a great cause for the “homeless, mentally ill, destitute, and old people in India.” How do you and your team manage the organization, and spread your message? How do you get financial assistance to drive your cause forward?
The Akshaya Trust is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We feed, give baths, provide nursing care, rehabilitation and counselling to all our residents. Akshaya Trust operates purely with public donations which we receive from a wide cross-section of people from all over the world. Akshaya Home grew brick-by-brick and granule-by-granule only through the support of individuals and like-minded people.
You were a rising and award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group when you chose a different life path after witnessing a particularly cruel scene of poverty. Do you ever miss working with food in your present career and is it something you keep doing as a hobby?
My ambition was to be a chef. Today, I continue to be a chef. Akshaya has given me the satisfaction that no other work will ever give me. Not even in my wildest dreams would I trade what I am doing today for anything else. Every day I see happiness in those we rescue. I hear the words for thank you daily. There can be no greater wealth than the happiness I see every day in the lives I am changing, in the lives the Akshaya Trust is changing.
In 2010 CNN named you in the top 10 heroes. How has this worldwide recognition helped you and your cause?
In 2010, when CNN Heroes recognized me as one of the top 10 heroes, the international community came forward to help and donate. This exposure helped the Akshaya Trust get the required funds to construct Akshaya Home.
How do you envision the future of your organization and Akshaya Home in five to 10 years?
The future of Akshaya Home is to have a Phase 1 fully functioning with its existing 400 plus residents. We also want to house 700 people once Phase 2 is complete, and finally, we hope to touch lives of 10,000 people over the next ten years.
Jennifer Williams | Editor-in Chief