29 Oct ; Narayanan Krishnan, a 29-year-old chef from India who founded a non-profit body to feed the homeless and destitute, has been shortlisted by CNN for its annual ‘Hero of the Year’ honour that recognises “everyday individuals who are changing the world.”
Krishnan is among this year’s top 10 CNN Heroes, who were selected from out of 10,000 nominations by a CNN panel comprising activists and philanthropists such as Muhammad Ali and Sir Richard Branson.
The network will announce the ‘CNN Hero of the Year,’ selected from among the top 10 people, on 25th November.
Among the top 10 CNN Heroes is Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, a Scotsman who provides free daily meals to 400,000 children; Aki Ra, a former child soldier clearing land mines in Cambodia and Anuradha Koirala, working to prevent trafficking and sexual exploitation of Nepal’s girls.
Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003.
He has served more than 1.2 million meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – to India’s homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused.
“Krishnan brings hot meals and dignity to India’s homeless and destitute – 365 days a year,” CNN said.
The top 10 “remarkable individuals” were nominated by CNN viewers from across 100 countries for their sacrifices and accomplishments.
In addition to receiving USD 25,000, each of this year’s top 10 CNN Heroes will be honoured at ‘CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute’ in Los Angeles on 25th November.
The global broadcast, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, will culminate with the announcement of the CNN Hero of the Year, selected by the public in an online poll.
The individual receiving the most votes will receive additional USD 100,000.
An award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, Krishnan was short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland.
But a family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything, CNN said.
“I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan told CNN. “It really hurt me so much.”
Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within a week.
Helping the old man, Krishnan said he decided to “serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves.”
Krishnan and his team cover nearly 125 miles in a donated van.
He provides hot meals – simple vegetarian fare – that he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 people each day.
The group’s operations cost about USD 327 a day, but sponsored donations only cover 22 days a month.
Since investing his entire savings of USD 2,500 in 2002, he has taken no salary.
Due to lack of funding, the group was also forced to stop construction on Akshaya Home, Krishnan’s vision of a dormitory for the people he helps.
“Despite the demands and few comforts his lifestyle affords, Krishnan says he’s enjoying his life,” CNN added.