By Nacho Ballesteros
Lisbon, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Nepali chef Tanka Sapkota arrived in Portugal 24 years ago and immediately felt welcomed by the community, a debt he sought to repay in 2020 by delivering 10,500 pizzas to families affected by Covid-19.
With the help of donations from local politicians, Tanka has been delivering pizzas to people whose economic or social situations have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown enforced to contain it.
For more than a month he has been going door to door with his mobile pizzeria, he tells Efe.
Backed by donations from political leaders, Tanka has been delivering pizzas around the Portuguese capital from his mobile pizzeria for more than a month
“I wanted to do something admirable with my job, something that would help everyone,” he says.
“I spoke with my wife, it was a difficult moment, and I said: ‘we are going to do this job and it will have a pretty high cost’,” he adds.
His friends and family doubted his decision at first, but Tanka says he followed a mantra: “The most beautiful work is done in the most difficult times.”
With that, he quickly won them over.
Each day his team must assemble and disassemble the mobile pizza oven and transport it to a new location. It’s a costly process but it allows him to serve his pizzas, made with cheese, ham, mushrooms and chorizo, “as hot as possible and at the highest quality”.
Community leaders and politicians have also got involved with the initiative, such as Mário Patrício, president of the Parque das Nações neighborhood council.
He says: “It’s very important to motivate people to help each other.
“We in the parish have a problem, as people who are not used to asking for help feel ashamed to do so,” he adds
Practically all of the community leaders in the neighborhoods where Tanka operates have got involved in the campaign.
Patrício joins Tanka in his food on a trip through Parque das Nações, delivering the pizzas from door to door.
At one house a small boy greets the food delivery saying “he loves pizza” while at another a woman comments on how good it smells.
Tanka had to close his four restaurants at the beginning of the pandemic but decided to donate 10 percent of what he would have earned had he been able to remain open to a local food bank, as well as keeping his takeaway service up and running.
Tanka, who wears a permanent smile, has the air of someone who wants to make the world a better place.
He says he gets his altruistic nature from his 91-year-old father who, back in his heyday, sold all his belongings to set up a charitable children’s foundation in Nepal.
Tanka says that this mentality is hereditary.