Humanitarian, and philanthropist has a story of resilience, tenacity, and heart-driven passion.
There are times when life turns around 360 degrees and we find ourselves on the edge. Moments where nothing makes sense and the least, we think about is getting out of it. But Anju turned out to be a lot intractable than she thought she was. Harmit Ahluwalia BEM known by everyone as Anju went through the same situation on her 21st birthday, getting sexually assaulted in her parent’s bathroom by a person, she was working towards a relationship with. But as she quotes, “it all eventually helped me shape into the woman I am today.
Even though the horrible incident took place she never filled her thoughts with negativity and on contrary worked for women and girls against violence for 12 years. The only girl child in her family with two brothers and amazing parents, Anju graduated with BA (Hons) degree in hospitality management from Middlesex University London. And at the age of 30, she got married to her partner; Nirmal Singh Saggu.
Constantly contributing to elevate a certain section of the economy, Anju worked for the charity helping individuals to leave a situation of pain and stand on their own feet. Later, with a mission to feed and serve homeless people, Anju co-founded Food4all, a charity with her husband. The charity grew from the Sikh concept of Seva (service) and started off with feeding in East London, Essex, and Lincoln Inn Fields in Holborn to about 250 to 280 people every weekend.
Anju was honoured on the queen’s birthday list this year with a British Empire Medal.
Besides running Food4All on a voluntary basis, Anju also had a propensity towards the charity sector and she was working with a well known large charity in the UK as an operations manager, managing a team of 36, which she left to take time out only when she encountered a car accident and got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which meant she is never returning to the world of work. But being a hard nut to crack she managed to scrape out of all the difficult situations with time and managed her health with the work for Food4All.
Anju finds her strength in compassion, positivity, and self-love. Her resilience and solution-driven personality have helped her manage teams. She firmly believes in empowering others on the journey of self-love and coming out with the best versions of themselves, so they can travel on to the road to recovery, feeling stronger and in control of their own destiny. Her experience of being homeless, losing income, and having to start again with weak mental health thrives her to give more to the universe via humanity.
Speaking about the effect of Pandemic and COVID-19 on the charity Anju says, “When covid hit Food4All overnight, went from feeding 400 people twice a week to 2000 meals 5 days a week, it was imperative for us to grow and support as much as we could, so we did it in partnership. We worked with 2 other charities that helped with the deliveries and donations. Food4All did all the cooking and strategies that I used, giving gratitude and using social media to help support the project and as a result, the charity secured £140,000 in cash and donations to support the people that needed help. This was all possible because of teamwork and what I call dreamwork’.”
Living on the principle of ‘giving is receiving and in receiving is giving’ taught by her mother, Anju Says that “I am proud to say that Food4All is definitely my 1st child in this life and I have seen so many amazing things happen to individuals who have given and received from Food4All that it is something that everyone needs to come and experience via volunteering.” She added, “we all have a story, that needs to be shared to support others on their journey and to help us all grow as individuals. To me, it’s important that we as individuals give that out, but 1st give it to yourself and have gratitude, in all that you do, the universe will deliver it to you.”
I understand what it feels like to go through tough circumstances, “24 years ago I experienced that very situation myself and a beautiful soul supported me. I made a promise that I would PAYITFORWARD myself. So, my biggest asset is the power of persuasion and fundraising.”