While we enjoy our meal tonight, over 20 crore people would be going to sleep on an empty stomach, hungry. More than 3000 children would die from poor diet related conditions. Out of the 18 lac homeless people and 6.5 crore people who live in the slums, over 25 lacs would be dead by the end of the year due to lack of food. All this happens not once, but daily and every year. With 20 crore people undernourished only in India, hunger remains the number one cause of death in the whole world – more than AIDS and cancer. That’s a number 1 spot no one would want to take.
But is it because the world is short of food? Or are we running out of resources? Every year approximately 130 crores tones of food is wasted. That is 1,30,000 crores kgs. One lac thirty thousand crores! A number many of us would even struggle reading. This is the gap Robin Hood Army envisions to bridge. We are on an endeavor to eliminate food wastage and hunger – not only in India and Pakistan, but globally.
I remember how since childhood I was taught to respect ‘ann’ or grains, and not waste food. We were always told that someone on the streets in hungry and dying for the morsel which we are ready to throw away. And that is true. Now that we are aware of the reality, this is something we are trying to change.
Personally, I always did my bit. Not waste food, not waste water, teach the kid of the kaam wali didi and press wale bhaiyya. But I always questioned myself, ‘how does it even matter’? ‘What difference will it even make’? I still carried on, despite this iota of doubt. Then one day I saw youngsters in green T-shirts calling themselves ‘Robins’ on my facebook screen. One of them was my friend from school, Sachin. I was in awe; I applauded and probably dropped a ‘Good going’ message. But once I went to sleep it was all forgotten. Come August’16 and my friend is vehemently behind me to join him on this big drive – something they called the Mission 500k. I agreed. 15th August’16, the day started at 9am – all the hulla gulla energy! We picked up the food from the caterer and just started. Earlier I had just used those busy streets to travel, but that day I knew how many hungry kids lived near those by lanes. Now I knew Sector 10 of Vasundhara, Ghaziabad has a slum which houses 120 people out of which 40 barely manage 2 square meals. It is always different to know the facts and figures, and different to see it from your own eyes. Since that day, till today, every day, every weekend my aim is to share some pain and sorrow of at least one child and see a smile on his or her face.
But what keeps me going?
Is it the satisfaction of feeding a child? Yes.
Is it the happy playful moments I spend with those children who call us bhaiyyas and didis and sometimes uncles and aunties? Mmmm. Still yes. (Chuckels)
Is it the times when someone comes up and says ‘didi, one day I want to be able to give others food like you do’? Definitely yes!
But, most importantly it is the other Robins of Ghaziabad. OVERLY ZEALOUS. OVERLY ENTHUSIASTIC. OVERLY CRAZY. And OVERLY SELFLESS! Sometimes how overly magnanimous they get, that it is so hard to believe! And those are the times when I just can not cease to have my faith in humanity reaffirmed. From ‘will it even make any difference’ it becomes ‘let us make a difference’. And again, I keep going on and I keep going on.