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Jan 2018

Asish Jaidev Soni to receive Queen's award for voluntary service


Asish Soni


Asish will be awarded ''BEM'' British Empire Medal. (More details about BAM in Wikipedia) for his services to the homeless and the needy. The ceremony will be at Buckingham palace and could be awarded by the Queen or any other member of the Royal family, most likely at a garden party at the palace. The exact date and details will be received later.

Asish is the eldest son of Jaidevbhai and Anjaliben Soni and grandson of Vadilal and Laxmiben Soni of Nairobi.

Graduated from Brunel Universaty with a degree in Economics with business finance, and worked in Private sector while doing his ACCA and qualified as an accountant in two years. Joined The Home Office at Croydon in their Finance and Budgeting team, about eleven years ago. He is now a Management accountant, managing a team of SEO's (Senior Executive Officers), therefore progressed well with his career too.

Asish b
ecame a ISKCON devotee while he was at Uni, and later became a desciple of HH Radhanath Swami of Chowpaty Temple at Mumbai. Married to Dipti (Patel), who too is a ISKCON devotee, and they have twin daughters three years old. They both started food distribution to the homeless and needy, more than ten years ago. Initially they both used to cook the food seeking help of couple of others at the
Soho Temple and taking it to those who needed. They also had to arrange for collection of raw material through donations. They still do the cooking as well as other tasks depending on how much help they can get from volunteers. Asish have to co-ordinate all this as well as drive the van.

His parents were reluctant, and often tried to stop him from going, fearing for his well being because of weather, work pressure, and the type of people he would be surrounded by, but he has always been so dedicated that he would go despite rain,snow,wind or cold, telling us that if he did not go than those poor people might go hungry.

Brief history of Ashish's family
After living in Croydon since 1975, the parents Jaidev and Anjali Soni moved and settled in Leicester past two years. They both are now retired. Jaidev's mother who is 94 lives with them. Their younger son works for MOJ (Ministry of Justice) and is also an accountant (CIMA). The daughter who is youngest is a pharmacist and lives in Brighton. Jaidev's last job too was at the Home Office as a caseworker in the Immigration dept.

Jaidevbhai's father Vadilal C Soni was popularly known as Vadilal Seth. He was very well known figure in Pattni community, not only in Kenya but well liked and respected in Uganda, Tanzania, Aden and Mumbai. He was one of the pioneering figures whose advice was sought by the community members.

  

   
Vadilalbhai with Damjibhai Devji Vaya

     
Lunch at Shamjibhai Lakha house

        
Maganbhai Chaku and his family visited their house in Mumbai in 1950


Jaidevbhai said "I remember from young age some of the people who regularly visited our house were Purshotambhai Lakha, Bhagwajibhai Tulsidas, Bhanjibhai Dosa, Jerambhai Kara etc from Uganda, the
other three Lakha brothers, specially Hirjibhai and Shamjibhai(Bapu), Hirabhai Virji and brothers Bhagwanjibhai Devji etc from Mombasa. These are just a few names but there were so many who phoned or met regularly. Maganbhai Chakubhai, Damjibhai Devji and Lalji Jetha family all were very close to him. Shri Harshadbhai Rana once called him a legend in one of his fb comments.

Vadilal left India when he was about 18 and initially was in Uganda for a while and came to Nairobi around 1940 or before and had a shop in Jiwanji Gardens, which  he closed and went to India around 45 and got married and came back and joined Damjibhai Devji for a while and again opened his own business. He passed away at Nairobi in 1972.


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24 Aug 2014

Ashish Soni serves kitchari to hungry Londoners from the Hare Krishna Food For Life van


Ashish serving to the hungry


Ashish Jaidev Vadilal Soni, London is a qualified accountant. He is a civil servant working in Croydon (London) at the Home Office, and people there call him Ash but at the Hare Krishna temple he is Acyuta.


He got involved with the Hare Krishna movement in his last year of uni about 10 years ago. A few monks came down, and gave a class on karma and why bad things happen to good people, and he found

answers he had been looking for.

 

Ashish was initiated in 2007, and given a baptism name: Acyuta Charan Das.


Around the same time, Ashish�s wife Dipti introduced him to the Food For Life project, and he started volunteering. It was started by the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami

Prabhupada, in the 70s, after he saw poor children fighting with dogs over scraps of food in the street during his time in India. His vision was that anyone within a 10-mile radius of a Hare Krishna temple

should not go hungry, so he sent his devotees out to feed the needy.


Hare Krishna movement sanctify the food, offering it to God, and that spiritualised food is called prashad, which means the mercy of the Lord. Hare Krishna devottes believe that prasad helps you materially

- by satisfying your hunger with nutritious food - but also brings you spiritual benefit. It's a worldwide project, with volunteers distributing food in cities everywhere.


The service they provide runs from Monday to Thursday, out of the temple in central London on Soho Street.

 

In need of more volunteers


They need more volunteers, especially someone with a driving licence, so they can expand to Fridays. The main dish they serve is kitchari, which the kitchen staff at Govinda's, the restaurant next to the temple,

prepare.

 

Kitchari is made with rice, lentils, veg and lots of spices. The beauty of kitchari - which means "mixture" - is that any leftover veg can be added. So the chefs use whatever they have to hand and it's different

every day. They also make a wholemeal cake with fruit.


Ashish arrive with the other volunteers at about 6:15pm, after work. They make the evening's drink - in the winter, it's usually hot masala tea, and in the summer, a fruit juice. Once they've made the food prasad,

they load the temple van up with the food and drink, recyclable plates and cutlery and a table, and set out for Lincoln's Inn Fields, just outside Holborn station. They give out 200-250 plates every day.

 

The food is made entirely with produce donated to the temple, and sometimes we receive other things too - the other day CoYo donated 12 crates of their vegan coconut yoghurt, which we distributed alongside

the prashad. One of the people who came said that her personal trainer had been telling her to eat CoYo, and she'd been buying pots of it for �3 a pop � The homeless guys were loving it, filling up their bags.


Over the years Ashish has got to know a few of the people who come - it's a real mix: homeless people, immigrants who might not be on the streets but who live well below the poverty line. And then others come

for the social interaction. The other day they had to get in the van at the end of the night and tell this one poor chap that we needed to leave - he just wanted to keep talking.


On a personal level, it's a very rewarding experience. Sometimes they've had people come who haven't eaten for a few days, and have three or four platefuls. I used to taste the food, but once a guy came after

I'd eaten the last plate and wanted food, and I felt so bad that now I don't eat or drink anything in case someone comes at the last minute.


Courtesy: Guardian

If you wish to be a volunteer, please contact Ashish at jaidevsoni@hotmail.com