Jesica Malhotra: The 17 year old from New Delhi who started Pehel- an innovative venture to distribute food to the needy

By Ganesh Nagarsekar|27th Jun 2013
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Jesica Malhotra is a 11th grade student of Modern school, Bakhambar Road. One day, during a casual conversation with her father she learnt that a lot of imported food items and other products go waste because of partial damage. Such items don’t make it to the supermarket shelves due to minor flaws like damaged packaging and are thrown away by importers. Meanwhile thousands of underprivileged children in India don’t get access to even the basic two meals a day. Seeing a chasm that could be bridged, Jesica started Pehel- an initiative to collect and distribute these items with the help of local NGOs.She is now one of the 15 finalists of the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards

As a first step, Jesica met a few importers who were her father’s friends. She shared her idea and convinced them to help her in the cause. Over a period of time, she began collecting canned food and other things like Crayola Crayons that came in damaged packets. However, collecting them and storing them in separate boxes became a logistical problem. With her father’s help, she managed to overcome this and soon started scheduling visits to a local NGO to distribute the goods. Such simple gestures coupled with common sense helped provide quality food to young, underprivileged children and also reduce wastage.

Jessica with students- Spreading smiles

Numerous orphanages and old age homes have received goods under Pehel’s initiative. The list of items Pehel gives out include soaps, shampoos, pens, pencils, books and various food products. They also organise fundraisers by selling these items and use them for the betterment of the less fortunate.

Talking about her experience with Pehel she says: “The experience is truly overwhelming. It is much above what you can learn in any book or even in your life. It gave me a sense of responsibility, independence and selfless affection. The little children consider me as their elder sister so I felt that it was my duty to take care of them. I learnt that determination can help you cross any obstacle with great ease.”

When asked about her personal idol, she said she looks up to the epitome of charity – Mother Teresa. Her personal mantra is also one of Mother Teresa’s favourite lines. “‘Give till it hurts’. It encourages me to help others in any way possible for the simple joy of seeing their faces bloom with happiness.”

When she isn’t working with Pehel, Jesica loves traveling, exploring various parts of the world and learning about different cultures. Being an active student in school, she likes participating in several activities and competitions such as debates, writing competitions, and basketball tournaments. Dramatics has been her personal favourite over the years.

She is currently working on bringing in more and more importers and expanding beyond Delhi. She wants to keep increasing her reach among NGOs and conduct more and more fundraisers to serve people. Such selfless aspirations in today time and age, makes us happy that there is still some goodness in the world.

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