How self sufficient are we in food? No, no.. Let’s not limit ourselves here to just our families and immediate communities. .. I am certain that, for most of us what would come to mind is the glimpse of vulnerable people begging on streets for food. ..Rightly so....
Now, just imagine you are at the middle of some work and you realize you are hungry. What next? For many of us, it’s barely at a walk able distance for a quick-bite. Is it not? Well, if at all even that’s a concern, our food is just a click away at the popular food delivery apps.. Things are now so sorted and clear.. .. An how would it not? We are, after all, standing at the 21st century, where issues like these amidst others are easily resolved through the online channels. .Noh….
In our daily lives, we have various modes of transport for commutation purpose. However, no matter where we get down; be it an elite locality or a slum sandwiched between the development infrastructures and upcoming hijack plans, we do find a lot of people starving for food. The sight is disturbing and we do remain still for a while wondering their way of life. But, a minute help( although not always).. Sad😒…..
This social reality is not specific to a particular location but is widespread.. It’s more of a daily encounter.. The world’s most populous democracy, home to 1.3 billion people is also home to the largest undernourished population in the world. Keeping the facts clear, around 194.4 million people i.e 14.5% of our population is undernourished… Further, this critical issue of hunger affects people across gender and age groups. https://www.indiafoodbanking.org/hunger
For quite a long, I was inclined to work in the field of malnutrition, especially for the children. Also, if I am ever given to choose between ‘fighting against hunger‘ and ‘fighting for education‘, I would always prefer the former.. although education is important, but how can our mind function when we are starving, famished? Right? My recent encounter with Robin Hood Army, gave me a fillip to work on the idea of ‘for them;with them’.. RHA is a voluntary based organization spread across many cities in India as well as countries. It’s motto of ‘combat hunger’ is no jargon but the action it puts to actualize change.
A day with the Robins
Independence day is round the clock and RHA has come up with it’s Mission5, that’s doing the buzz in many cities. It basically entails 5 days of food grains distribution drive in and around our cities. So, the day starts early around 6am, when we need to assemble at a common point and know the team. To me, it was my first drive with the team, and hence the excitement to join hands with the lending hands.😊
Following the routes to the tribal villages, as part of our tribal drive., a new endeavor of such a kind blossomed up in me with excitement and nervousness. Terribly sleep deprived that we all were, became a post-drive agenda as we get back to our homes. 😃 To my surprise, we artfully managed to get over the dizziness by singing songs( dearly antakshari), discussing things, food, etc. The one driving was alert and active. We covered half our way and got down at a refreshment centre. .. I am in awe with the view the place holds. So apologetic for having forgotten the name of the place, some where at Palghar district in Maharashtra.
Drive with a mission
We quickly grabbed some snacks and got back to our seats. With the journey onward, the bountiful scenic beauty could not but kept us wonder of it’s beauty. An hour long drive and we reached our first village. We were around 25-30 volunteers. Food grains , biscuits, chocolates, poha, lentils, pulses, rice, etc had been collected through contributions . Soon followed the interactions with the village people and so was the acknowledgement of their issues. Part of our team helped gather the children and distributed biscuits. While, other groups distributed the food grains to the hamlet with another group unpacking the grains sacks. The process continued for around an hour or so. And so increased our understanding of the village.
With the distribution being over, some of our volunteers started playing( gilli danda) with the tribal children. After this, we made a plan of action for distribution drive in remaining 3 villages. We had a guide with us from the village who helped us manage the task .
A lot of us tried to interact with the tribals who belonged to Warli and Katkari communities. Language was found to be a possible barrier. However, it was great to see that the people were quite warm and welcoming.
Reflecting upon the day
After I got back home that night, I recalled of my conversation with one of my professor who teaches Social Policy. It underpins the dynamics of hunger in parallel with the much debated ongoing over nutrition issue in India. And so, it’s not always the case that the rich have all the resources and the poor lack them. But, the fact that there is clear unequal distribution of resources and that the ‘haves‘ have not learnt enough on how to make resources equitable for the ‘have nots‘..
To add to this, I think, the robin idea stands out as it makes it possible to access food contributions from the resourceful to the vulnerable sections. Further, the good news is that there are actually quite a huge segment that is willing to contribute for fighting hunger.
And rightly so, it’s not just the Robin Hood Army that makes it possible, but all the stakeholders involved. It rightly makes RHA a vibrant and participatory platform for forging action. It just so so befits the idea of ‘For Them With Them’…..Bravo