Serving Food Despite Rockets, Violence, and Danger.
Recently, Parasuram Das also known as Peter O’Grady spoke with The Times of India about his work feeding people in war-torn Ukraine.
As the conflict continues, a dedicated group of Krishan devotees continues to risk their lives, serving food to hungry people in Eastern Ukraine.
Leaving London to supply local field kitchens with generators, supplies, and spices, Parasuram Das, the director of Food for All UK is stocking as many field kitchens with supplies as possible. At the time of this interview, they were busy stocking nine field kitchens, each feeding about 2,000 meals a day.
The food is prepared in the kitchen and then loaded into vans to take to the distribution sites. Most of the young people are gone, either drafted into the war efforts or have fled.
The ones left are mostly the elderly. Ones who have lived in the area for their entire lives and don’t want to leave.
Life here almost feels normal again. Electricity is back on, and people are not having to wait in a queue for water.
But there are the occasional rocket attacks.
His van was rocked with blasts while O’Grady was inside. These are the risks they face every day to be out there helping.
But despite the danger, they continue to focus on the task they are there to help with. Cooking plant-based food.
“There are very brave cooks here, and they go out to the places that are actually under attack”
The cooking system is beautifully simple. A burner heats a giant pot (larger enough to cook food for 4,000 people).
The potatoes cook on the bottom, and the dal cooks on top with the rice and softer vegetables on the very top.
And if there is a secret ingredient, it’s this. Love.
The food is prepared with loving intention, and each kitchen plays music for the people who come to be fed. Dealing with the constant threat of violence, coming to get food is a chance for people to experience a moment of peace, even joy.
There is danger, but there are also people who come together in service.
Kharasen is one of the more dangerous places. There is a nearby house with a swimming pool where food is prepared while rockets sail overhead.
The pool is safer because it’s not a building that can collapse on the workers. Despite the daily threat to their lives, devotees are feeling joyful and find a certain peace in the work of feeding people.
Last July, two Iskcon devotees were killed in an attache in Donbas after delivering food to farmers in a nearby village.
To that, O’Grady says, “Even at the moment, the wives of these devotees are serving prasad themselves, so it didn’t even put them off.”
It has made us more determined.
“If our life is just about money, we are not really living life. “