Living Alone at 98, She Gets a Free Lunchbox Delivered to Her Everyday

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Mark has been delivering tiffins to senior citizens in his Mumbai neighbourhood for last three years.

Mumbai:  Angela Fernandes lives by herself in Mumbai's western suburb of Borivali. A retired school teacher, she is able to run a house on her monthly pension. At 98, she can't cook for herself anymore. But in 58-year-old Mark D'Souza, Ms Fernandes has found a friend whose free tiffin service keeps her covered.

"I'm not a drag on any of my children as far as money is concerned. I manage with my pension, so I was even prepared to pay," says Ms Fernandes.

Mark, started the tiffin service three years ago. For 25 senior citizens in the area like Ms Fernandes, Mark's tiffin service is more than just food.

"He doesn't make you feel like he is giving you free food," Ms Fernandes said. "He comes so happily. I say to him, 'you come as if it's a party'."

Mark had lost his parents at an early age. He says the tiffin service was "just a thought" and credits his wife for her support in starting it.

"She gave me Rs 5000 from what she had earned from taking tuitions, and said, 'if you want to do something, start now'," Mark recalled.

The whole D'Souza family is now a part of the process; from buying vegetables to cleaning, cooking and packing the tiffin boxes. Starting with a handful of tiffins to preparing a meal for over 25 people today, the family spends roughly Rs 15,000 every day.

Even to this day, Mark makes sure he personally delivers all the tiffins.

"When you're old is when you realise what old age means and how people feel trapped within the four walls. When I deliver the tiffins, they say thank you and god bless. The two words have a big meaning," he said.

Like Angela Fernandes, 85-year-old Perdita D'Souza also lives by herself after she had lost both her husband and her son. A visit from Mark is a big highlight of her day.

"It is a relief I don't have to go to the bazaar anymore. The tiffin is the best on Sundays when there is fish and meat," she said.

It's the smiles, the letters of gratitude and the kind words that are undoubtedly Mark's biggest reward.

 

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