July 25, 2016 9:06:10 pm
Faces in the Rohingya refugee camp at Kalindi Kunj in Delhi lit up on an otherwise dull Sunday as a group of Robins from Jamia Millia Islamia arrived in the slum to save the day. However, instead of arches and swords, these Robins were armed with food packets to fight the global enemy: Hunger.
The group of youngsters were members of Robin Hood Army, a volunteer-based organisation that collects surplus food from various restaurants and distributes it to the needy ones. Founded by Neel Ghose and Anand Sinha, the organisation, which is spread to different parts of the world, aims to tackle two major problems at one go– food crisis among the less fortunate and global food wastage. On its website, the organisation claims to have helped 5,11,143 people across the world with their army of 3, 446 Robins.
The organisation enjoys support across a wide spectrum of people. From restaurant owners to students, people have gladly joined the ‘Army’ in making efforts to reduce the hunger crisis– one Sunday at a time. “The fact that Robin Hood Army does not accept any donation in cash appealed to me,” says Inzamam Ul Haq, a post-graduate student in Jamia Millia Islamia and one of the main volunteers of RHA Jamia chapter. “The ground rules were clear. You only distribute food that you could eat yourself. No plate leftovers or inedible food. This enticed me into being a part of the movement.” said Haq.
In March, the organisation embarked upon its Jamia chapter. Naved Anjum, an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia and coordinator of the Jamia chapter spoke to IndianExpress.com on how a chance visit at an RHA drive inspired him to do more. “A colleague took me on my first drive to Noida and it changed the way I thought about food,” recalled Anjum. “After the Noida drive, I was so inspired that I wanted something like this in Jamia as well. So after speaking to Inzamam and others, we began RHA’s Jamia Chapter.” Though Anjum is now a working professional, his Sundays are mostly reserved for the RHA drives that are conducted in the slum areas of Jamia Nagar and Kalindi Kunj.
In a span of four months, RHA volunteers from Jamia Millia Islamia have managed to collaborate with seven restaurants to provide food for the underprivileged. However, it wasn’t easy. Anjum revealed how initially none of the restaurants were on board. On their first drive, the Jamia volunteers collected raw materials from friends and acquaintances and took help from a local eatery to serve fresh food to 210 people. Today, while some restaurants donate the surplus food to reduce wastage, others like Bhoj Restaurant in New Friends Colony, cook fresh food for the underprivileged.
This week, RHA launched its operations in Philippines and Australia. Founder Neel Ghose said that including college chapters in Robin Hood Army was essential since ‘youth is the future of our country’. “If we use their energy and passion towards something like helping others, it will result in a lot of long time benefits.” he added.
According to United Nations World Food Programme, almost 795 million people do not get adequate level of food. Simply put, one in nine people do not have access to the required level of food consumption. Statistics are worse when it comes to Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A United Nations report states that India tops the world hunger list with 194 million people in the country being undernourished.
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