AM Samsu Ali knows what it feels like to be on the street and not having enough food to eat. As a child, he spent days on the streets, doing odd jobs to support himself and his family. On many nights, he even went hungry.
But through his hard work and perseverance, Samsu was able to pick himself up, and over time set up a successful business. Today he owns Chennai Mobiles, a chain of smartphone retail stores in the southern Indian city of Coimbatore. But those early experiences remain with him forever.
Perhaps that’s the reason why this Samsung partner and his team have taken it upon themselves to provide food to around 800 needy people everyday in Coimbatore, through the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
“Skipping work and going to school was a luxury that I could never afford. But neither could I afford giving up due to the hardships,” Samsu says. “I wanted to make something good out of my life, in a way where I could also help others. And I never forgot my roots.”
From there to running one of the biggest mobile retail chains in Tamil Nadu is quite an inspiring story. But more inspiring to the Samsung team is his initiative of giving back to society, a value of ‘Co-prosperity’ that Samsung imbibes.
Samsung has a network of over 200,000 retail stores spread across every corner of India, and many Samsung partners who run these stores, have done some philanthropic work or the other during the pandemic, both in 2020 and now in 2021.
They have helped people in the communities around them by providing food, Oxygen cylinders, concentrators, medicines and even setting up hospital beds in partnership with local authorities. Many have worked hand in hand with Samsung for Covid support.
“I only deliver food that I can have”
Samsu says his cooks prepare food for 700-800 people every day, ensuring all precautions are in place, including wearing masks and regular sanitization. All quality and hygiene standards are maintained.
“My cooks make sure there’s a mix of biryani, curd rice, chapati with lentils, or idli-sambhar.” Vegetarian food is cooked separately keeping the beneficiaries’ preferences in mind.
Even Samsu himself being infected with Covid-19 sometime back did not dampen his spirits. The fire in his kitchen continued and he was back on the streets once he recovered.
In addition to cooked food, Samsu has been providing groceries and financial aid too to the people.
“When you do good work, others join you voluntarily”
Around 40 of his employees at Chennai Mobiles are part of this effort voluntarily, helping people tirelessly. There is also a local NGO partner to deliver food.
With all this food prepared, four people set out every morning in a van to ensure that they cover as many affected areas in Coimbatore as possible.
“Be it this pandemic or any other unfortunate calamity, this team will always stand to support those in need,” he says.
So, what’s his reward?
“A lot of people get overwhelmed and thank us with tears in their eyes when they receive food. Our true reward is the fact that they feel safe with us, that someone is looking out for them,” Samsu says.
“I know what it is to be helpless, and not be able to provide food for family. I can feel their pain, and the joy.”