ISP Delhi Bureau
Ayesha Khan feeds more than 2600 workers in the cities of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. She is popular as the Indian expatriate with a golden heart who is feeding meals to blue collar workers at the cost of just three Dirhams. She is the owner of the famous Food ATM in the Gulf region.
Khan was a successful computer engineer when she left her blooming career to pursue her philanthropic interest of providing food to the needy. She registered her initiative in Ajman and there was no looking back. Her inspiration was the desire to ensure that no labourer goes to sleep without food in the Gulf region.
She is 47 now and is globally renowned for her experiment to provide food to the hungry with dignity and professionally which was launched in 2019. She was working for the government of UAE when she gave up her job for altruistic work.
Ayesha provides a three-course meal and it is packed in the best quality and the consumer also has a choice to buy all three meals at a combined price of 9 Dirhams. Her parcels are delivered to doorsteps and workplaces across the Gulf region with a staff of around two dozen people. She gives an ATM food card to the workers and they have to charge it with the number of meals. Everytime one has to eat, he or she can punch it and redeem the diet. The card has a number, the individual’s photo and a QR code on it, which is scanned for meal count balance.
Her management of delivering affordable and hygienic food to the needy with a razor thin staff is considered a global wonder in terms of hard-work, logistics and coordination. She has won several accolades for the same. Her sumptuous packed meal consists of a box of biryani, a cup of curd, some pickles and a small cup of dessert – all at the meagre price of 3 Dirhams. Typically, the cheapest of the food available for a labour in the Gulf region is one bread and lentil soup at 5 Dirhams, which may not even feed one person full.
Her first centre at Ajman is a 24 hour ATM of food. Anyone can walk in even in the middle of the night and get food and water. Her little mess at Ajman is an oasis of hope for many diaspora workers. She does not limit her initiative to Indian workers alone. People of all nationalities are welcome to come to the Food ATM.
To take care of the versatile taste, she has also designed special menus to cater to the taste of Pakistani, Indian, Nepali and other South Asian workers. Hailing from Kerala, she also has a South Indian menu specifically for Malayalees which consists of fish fry, biryani, keema, aloo mattar, boiled rice with lentil gravies and more. People like her preparation as they serve seven different kinds of desserts during the week.