Battling food insecurity at the frontline!

Mangala Dissanayake

Vegetable Vendor

One of the ripple effects of the outbreak has been the increase in people facing food insecurity. Among the countless remarkable people who engaged in an unrelenting fight against hunger is Mangala Dissanayake (54), a vegetable vendor. Widowed at a young age, and having no children, her sole purpose has been to support her mother and help the destitute with her earnings even before the pandemic. Although her life was upended, she decided to not let the crisis get the best of her and still wanted to continue her cause. During the outbreak, she worked with her uncle, delivering vegetables in a truck.

She soon realised many families were fighting greater battles against Covid-19. “I met families who had no essentials delivered for days. They felt powerless and helpless not being able to stop their eroding situation,” she says, “at a time like this, our conversations with them, our reactions to their situation and our actions will make all the difference.”

Mangala is not your average vegetable vendor. She was always known to go the extra mile. After witnessing the crippling situation of many individuals, she wanted to use her commission she gets from her uncle to support her cause. “I decided to prepare a few food parcels. It didn’t contain much, mostly just rice and boiled vegetables. But I knew this would be the only meal some people had for days.” Every day, she gets up an hour early to make 10 food parcels. That’s her target, she says. “This would mean I could feed 10 people a day. If every one of us could step up and support even just one individual, and help lighten their load in some way, our world would be a much better place to live in. I have learnt that these encounters where we improve somebody else’s life help enrich our own lives as well.”