March 29, 2023

Upjit Singh Sachdeva: The Man Fighting Hunger in Liberia

Jeety Continues Daily Hot-Meal Service Despite Chronic Rice Shortage in the Country

Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva is well aware of the disastrous effects of starvation. He saw how hunger ruined many as a child growing up in India. This made him more determined to take action to end hunger whenever and wherever it existed.

Years later, when he finally had the chance to act, he devised a strategy to fight famine in Liberia, where he had spent the majority of his professional life as a business mogul rather than in India. He even publicly proclaimed Liberia as his second home and expressed the desire to be cremated there on the day he is summoned to return to his Creator. The strategy of Sachdeva, also known as “Jeety” in Liberia, is the routine delivery of hot, well-prepared cooked meals to some of the nation’s poor and vulnerable families as well as at-risk youth. These groups of Liberians lack access to food, and Jeety’s daily lunch provides them with a social safety net while also easing their temporary hunger pains.

The hot plate of delicious Liberian home-made meal is often served with a sachet of water, a box of juice, and sometimes a bottle of soda (soft drink), benefiting over 500 persons a day, many of whom struggle to make ends meet and are living way below the poverty belt of a dollar a day.

“You see, hunger is a result of some unfortunate situations that many find themselves living in. There is no greater happiness than being able to give back to society. People should not go to bed hungry; if all of us who have the means to help, do something,” Mr. Sachdeva told journalists a fortnight ago.

“Therefore, I have a moral responsibility to help the best way I can, particularly tackling hunger among the less privileged and those that are at risk. Life is hard but harder for many of us who live in abject poverty and hardly make enough to get an evening meal.”

From Sunday to Sunday, young and old people, mostly young men, gather in large groups at Jetty’s feeding location in Vai Town on Bushrod Island to receive a bowl of hot food to eat. According to figures from the Global Hunger Index, his work is enormous because food insecurity and hunger are still major issues in Liberia (GHI).

Liberia was ranked 110th out of 116 nations for hunger conditions in the Index’s 2021 edition, which deemed the country’s degree of hunger to be “severe.” An estimated five million individuals, or 1.6 million, are hungry, according to the worldwide NGO Action Against Hunger (AAH). According to the NGO, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased vulnerabilities across the nation, with 30% of children under five being stunted and 3% suffering from severe malnutrition.

Despite the difficulties Covid caused for businesses, Jeety didn’t appear discouraged. Given that some of the tensions are still present, he keeps working to battle hunger among some of Liberia’s underprivileged and destitute, doubling the effort that has been going on since February 2017 and completing one bowl of food at a time.

His efforts peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic when food insecurity struck the majority of houses and people were cooped up for several weeks. In practically all of Montserrado County, he provided hot, cooked meals for individuals who could not buy them on their own. His deed affected and continues to touch the lives of jail inmates and personnel, medical professionals, including nurses at several hospitals and Covid Treatment Units (CTU), as well as supplying meals to patients who needed them.

He continues to provide food for convicts at Monrovia Central Prison, one of Liberia’s major prisons, and he occasionally takes his feeding crew outside of Monrovia to provide food for other prisoners. He also provides food on a daily basis to various government hospitals. The Redemption Hospital in the Borough of New Kru Town, by the Atlantic Ocean, is one such public medical facility that receives food from him every day.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to strive to solve societal problems. I am liberated while trying to help. I see it as devotion and I think I have not done much. I need to go beyond urban areas and I hope to see. If others can devote their little resources to other important societal issues, I should do the same, too. It is about inspiring others after you have been inspired. In the soonest time, I am going to primarily devote my entire life focusing on providing meals for the hungry. All I am trying to do is God’s work.”

In addition to the daily feeding he does in and around Monrovia, he has now extended this aspect of his humanitarianism to Weala, another impoverished town more than 75 km away from Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia.

“I will in the future increase the number of feeding days to seven. At the moment, I am feeding three times a week in Weala.”

The nation has taken notice of Mr. Sachdeva’s charitable activities, despite the fact that he has not yet reached the entire nation. He recently received one of the top awards from the Golden Image Award, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, with a focus on making strides in local philanthropic spheres. His honor is in the national level category of Humanity and, according to the award secretariat, comes after extensive research and vetting of his work indicating the impact on people’s lives. He was the National Humanitarian Award Recipient and Winner for 2022.

The US State Department also in its 2021 Report, highlighted his efforts towards combating hunger among inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison as well as restoring electricity and fixing the prison facility’s sanitation systems.

“The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with the assistance of Mr. Sachdeva, who is also an Indian business tycoon in Liberia, undertook the renovation of the Monrovia Central Prison, which included the installation of 2,500-liter poly tanks for water storage along with a generator for the supply of water during a power outage,” the US State Department report stated.

The US Embassy’s acknowledgment came after the government of Liberia had commended Jeety, who is the immediate past former Honorary Consul General of India in Liberia, for his philanthropic work, which is helping to alleviate hunger among some of the country’s poor populations.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sachdeva has called on Liberia’s large commercial companies to set aside portions of their profits to support charitable causes, as the country grapples with a slew of issues that are straining the government’s finances.

The Sikh devotee believes that every big corporation in the country should make it a requirement to contribute a percentage of their revenues to charitable causes such as poverty reduction, hunger relief, disaster assistance, education, and women and girls’ empowerment.

He went on to say that large and successful firms should acknowledge that it is their moral obligation to assist make the country a better place by addressing societal concerns through charitable projects.

Reported by: Alaskai Moore Johnson

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