“I know what it takes to survive in this country, so now that I have enough, I want to give it back to those who don't,” says Ashish Sood, the Brisbane-based restaurant owner who provides free food to the homeless.
Thirty-three-year-old Ashish Sood from Ludhiana came to Australia in 2007 on a student visa, with a bag full of memories, colloquial English and very little money.
All he ever dreamt was of setting-up his own business, and in July last year, he managed to rake up just enough to fulfil his dream, after struggling to make ends meet for almost a decade.
Mr Sood opened up a humble take-away joint called ‘Ginger and Garlic’ in CBD Brisbane that serves Indian cuisine and has of late gained popularity among locals as the restaurant that doles-out free meals to the homeless in the city.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi, Mr Sood said, “It felt bad to throw all that food every day, but I’m glad that now instead of going into the bin, it [food] makes a lot of people happy and lets them sleep on a full stomach”.
“We have at least eight to nine homeless people, mostly men, who come to us for food every single night since the past four months”.
“They start lining-up outside the restaurant from 8:30pm onwards, while we only start serving after 10:30 when the restaurant closes”, told Mr Sood.
If at all none of the regulars turn-up, the restaurant staff packs the leftovers mostly naan bread and butter chicken and puts them on a bench in front of the joint.
Mr Sood told SBS Punjabi that years of struggle has taught him that givers are in fact the best takers in this world.
“I know what it takes to survive in this city since I have seen days without a proper home or enough money. But now that I have enough, I want to do something for the ones who don’t”.
“I feel proud of what I have become”, added Mr Sood.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), at least 116,000 people were homeless in Australia on Census night in 2016, which means there were 50 homeless persons for every 10,000 people, a number that is mounting every year.