sulabh swatchh bharat

Thursday, 23-May-2019

Robin Hood Army!

Like the legendary messiah of the underprivileged, this group of volunteers ‘take from the rich’ all the food that can go waste and feed the needy.

In a rapidly developing country that is India, it’s hard to imagine around twenty crore of our population going to sleep hungry every night. The country is crippled under this large scale starvation but ideas to tackle it seem scarce. Millions of people go hungry for days, leading to malnutrition and poor health, which becomes a burden on the economy. Among all this, there is one organization that just may have found a part of the answer. A voluntary organization, Robin Hood Army, (RHA) is a group of people that serves food to the poor and hungry.

Calling themselves ‘Robins’, the RHA volunteers roam across the city at night to collect leftover or unsold food from hotels, restaurants, food-chains and events like marriages, parties etc., to distribute it among the needy. They usually feed the homeless, slum dwellers and roadside squatters to serve the collected food.

Cofounders of the Robin Hood Amy, Neel Ghose and Anand Sinha explain their vision to “create self-sustained chapters to look after their local community”. Majority of the volunteers in the organisation are young professionals. These local chapters of the organisation are run by friends and families who hope to make a difference. This volunteer-based organisation is the least bureaucratic and has virtually no ‘managers’ at all. While they do enroll every volunteer, they also urge public participation in the good work without any association, be it from an individual, group or community.

Their volunteer strength rises anyway; contributors join the organisation by active volunteer work or by becoming a source of food provision. These volunteers coordinate with other members in the area and work collectively. They together move around and talk to local restaurants, hotels and event halls, requesting them to donate the leftover food to be distribute among the poor. There are many hotel and restaurant owners who have willingly joined the RHA themselves and donated food regularly. Surprisingly, and pleasantly, there are also some who especially prepare food for donation.

Started as a Boy Scout kind of organisation, the ‘army’ is ever-expanding. With over 6,700 volunteers as of date, the army has put food into thousands of mouths so far. ‘Good practice knows no border’ the saying goes, and the organisation has spread across India and has volunteers serving the cause beyond borders. It has members in the neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, actively serving the hungry in their most affected cities of Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Dhaka.

Despite them filling millions of hungry stomachs within cities, many more still sleep hungry at night. India is self-sufficient in food grain production yet around 20 crore of the country’s population is undernourished. Over 800 million people sleep hungry around the world, despite the fact that a third of the total prepared food is never consumed. The richer 10 per cent accounts for 31 per cent consumption expenses; the economically lower 10 per cent of the population only contributes to 3.6 percent. RHA works to close that gap.

A mere idea at first, Robin Hood Army is an inspiration for society. Positive media coverage and social media boost became the key to their rise.

Clearly the message is that more can be done, and the Robin Hood Army is already on it. RHA has already launched their college student programme. In this programme they target and address college students. They ask the students for their time in this voluntary work while promoting ethics among the new generation. They started their college programme with Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. They now have launched the drive in the Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram and Jamia Millia Islamia, Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s and DY Patil of Pune. RHA is planning to further expand the volunteer-ship to more cities in need to counter the worldwide capitalism in food consumption and bring somewhat equality in food availability.

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