Roti Bank! A bank that doesn’t fill pockets with money. Rather, it fills bellies with chapaatis. Oblivious to social inequalities, people here are treated equally
She lost her eyesight, but hunger never left her side. It was her constant companion. She used to eat anything which came her way. Poverty had left her illiterate; the only option she had was beggary. That too, at a place which is widely known for drought and starvation. In such extreme situations, it’s nothing less than a dream come true if one gets two square meals a day. This is the story of Mahoba’s Chandabai. Crippled with poverty, Chandabai has lived this nightmare everyday since her childhood. She had to struggle for every piece of meal. But now she doesn’t have to suffer the same for a meal every day. Neither does she sleep hungry at night. Now she doesnt go hunting for food but the food itself comes to her. For a person who has struggled for meals her entire life, this readily available food is nothing less than a fantasy. She is now well fed, happy and relaxed.
Similar is the story of Mahoba’s septuagenarian Ram Prasad. After the demise of his wife, he was left all alone with no one to look after him. With little or no food, he helplessly lied hungry and thirsty at home for days. In this stage of life he doesn’t even have the strength to earn or even beg for a livelihood. But his life has taken a new turn now. He doesn’t have to worry about his meals anymore, neither does he long for companions. He gets two meals everyday and also the company of volunteers, who feed him with their own hands.
Saviour of the unfortunate
The torment of hunger is only understood by those who have felt it, only the ones who have lived through it. A person does everything in his power to get food. They struggle through the hard work and endure pain to earn a livelihood. Poor and helpless have to beg for it. That’s what people do for just two set of meal every day. Not just Chandabai and Ram Prasad, thousands of others are getting free meals every day. These meals are a luxury for these needy souls. Roti Bank Foundation has brought a new ray of hope in their lives.
Unique Roti Bank
Roti Bank! A bank that doesn’t transact in money, but in rotis. Here, a Hindu prepares food for a Muslim, a Muslim for a Hindu, Dalit for a Brahmin and Brahmin for a Maha-Dalit. Not just prepare, they even feed each other with great love and compassion. Religion and beliefs don’t separate people, because there is only one religion here, ‘fighting poverty’ and only one belief, ‘serving the needy’. They only have one objective, Feed everyone, so that no one has to sleep hungry.
Inspired by starvation
‘Koi Bhookha Na Rahe, Koi Bhookha Na Soye’ was the promised vision for starvation hit Bundelkhand which is known for its poverty. Many deaths have been reported due to starvation and poverty in the Mahoba district of Bundelkhand. Orphans, helpless and physically challenged are the ones who are hit the hardest. They have no other option than begging for their livelihood. Empathising with these poor souls, social worker Tara Patkar, Haji Muttan, Father Labhan and few other members of Bundeli Samaj Sangathan initiated a movement. Rather than criticising the government, these people took the initiative and established Roti Bank on 15th April 2015. Started in 10 blocks of Mahoba district and a small volunteer base, this organisation has spread to different parts of the country, in such a short time. And all of this has happened organically. With their own money and efforts, volunteers of Roti Bank are feeding thousands of hungry men, women and children and bringing about a change in their lives.
Youngsters holding empty bags can be seen in the streets as soon as the sun sets. Calling out ‘Roti Bank , Roti Bank’, they reach every home. No matter who the house belongs to, be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, rickshaw puller or daily wage labour, the door opens and someone from the house donates atleast 2 rotis in their bags. People can also donate roties in to 21 Roti Bank boxes which are placed at different corners of the city anytime they want.
Look for the hungry
The Bank’s maxim is to provide fresh food for everyone, so the collected food is tested first. If there is slightest concern about the quality of the food, it is separated from the fresh food and is used to feed the animals. The fresh food is registered in their books and then packed for distribution. The volunteers take these packets out to bus stops, railway stations and footpaths and distribute them among the hungry and destitutes. Apart from feeding the footpath-dwellers these volunteers also feed the old and helpless who don’t have anyone to take care of them. Anyone can also collect free food from Roti Bank’s office between 10 AM and 8 PM. Despite being self sufficient in food production, its unfortunate that many in our country go to sleep on empty stomach. These few men in Roti Bank have achieved with their honesty and efforts, what the entire system couldn’t. Known for its poverty and starvation, Bundelkhand is now a source of inspiration for the world.
Over 100 Roti Banks
Inspired by the world’s first Roti Bank in Mahoba, Roti Banks are starting in various cities across the country. They all have the same objective, ‘Koi Bhookha Na Soye’. Following Mahoba, people have started Roti bank in more than 100 cities including Indore, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Agra, Hamirpur, Hazaribagh and Aurangabad.
Roti bank model
Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen addressing the hunger issue once said, “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat.” With his remarks, he highlighted the inequality in food availability and called it a global concern. Roti Bank is addressing the problem with its unique approach.
Collecting food from homes for distributing among the hungry, these people are not just helping the needy but also creating a balance in the society. One side of the society has people starving on the roads, footpaths and railway stations, while on the other hand, people living a luxurious life in the cities are wasting it. Thousand tonnes of food is wasted by the hotels and restaurants in the metro cities alone. Enough food is wasted everyday that can feed the entire starving population of the country. If the model of Roti Bank of Mahoba is replicated in every nook and corner of the country, no food will ever go to dustbins and above everything, no one would have to sleep hungry at night.
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