In the heart of Delhi's New Friends Colony, lives 36-year-old Divya Puri, an auditor by profession and an animal rescuer by passion. She has been feeding strays since 2012, even through the COVID induced lockdown when people couldn't step out of their homes.
Divya tells us how it began, with the tragic loss of her father. "Unfortunately, about 9 years back I lost my father to cancer, post that we started feeding more animals to get out of the void that he had left. My mother went into depression and this was her way of dealing with grief."
That was when she co-founded the Karan Puri Foundation, which is named after her father. "The foundation was an effort by my mother because she was the primary caregiver of my father and after he passed away she went through a rough phase in life, this was her way of dealing with grief. We slowly increased our feeding capacity."
But tragedy struck Divya a second time. Both Divya and her mother were hit by COVID during the deadly second wave. Admitted to two separate hospitals, and after 13 days of battling COVID in the ICU, Divya lost her mother.
"Even while on the hospital bed, she kept asking - 'khana gaya kutto ko? (Have the dogs been fed?) Just call up the staff and check whether the food is being cooked or not.' She started deteriorating and right till the end she was really concerned that the feeding should continue."
Today, the Karan Puri Foundation prepares 75 kgs of rice and 45 kgs of chicken, feeding at least 400 strays every single day, to ensure no stray is left unfed within a 5 km radius.
At a time when the whole country was in lockdown, Divya and her mother travelled far and wide through Delhi to rescue and feed strays. It is that compassion that Divya remembers today when she thinks of her mother - the kind soul who cared for the lives and rights of animals who have no place to go.
Divya lost her parents, one to cancer the other to Covid, but she decided to carry forward their legacy of kindness by looking after and feeding stray animals. Heroes like Divya set an example for everyone that even when you have nothing there's something to give back to the society.