What would induce a group of busy professionals to troop together after work, volunteering till midnight? These agents of happiness, worked for a month to feed 500,000 hungry people on the street. So that for Independence Day, the hungry could be freed too.
The ambitious dream was named Mission 500k and involved a band of over 5,000 Robin Hood Army (RHA) volunteers spread across 29 cities in India and Pakistan. The important thing, says Neel Ghose, Founder, RHA, is to do something. “Food is the most basic right of an individual. A nutritious meal is the first step. Next is spending time thinking about doing something for the other and creating a culture of care,” he says.
In just four days, two successful crowdfunding campaigns helped Mission 500k team feed about 20,000 people in four cities.
MissionFeed5k in Hyderabad
RHA collects leftover food from events, restaurants and hotels to distribute it to homeless people. Its work is carried out by volunteers who take up the task of picking up and redistributing food. It has self-sustained chapters in 30 cities in India and Pakistan.
In Hyderabad, RHA volunteers from the Global Shapers Community decided to raise funds on Milaap to deliver food to 5,000 hungry. They began a 'MissionFeed5k' that raised Rs177,838 to feed over 8,000 people in only two days. The secret of their success was a combination of social-media mastery and optimising their resources for the cause.
Harshika, from Globals Shapers thinks it could be the sense of urgency created in the run up to Independence Day, “We shared it in our networks on Friday, August 12, and we got a lot of donations over the weekend. The limited time we had really spurred support.”
As Uma Chilak from RHA Hyderabad says, “Feeding hungry is the oldest charitable activity. It touches a chord in everyone.” The money helped feed 8,200 people, a third of all the people fed by RHA in Hyderabad.
Passing the baton: #FreeTheHungry
RHA is unique in that the group of volunteers come together for the sole purpose of reaching out to the needy and hungry. It is this selflessness that draws thousands of volunteers to RHA.
It is why they came up in The Better India (TBI) team's brainstorming session for Independence Day. “We sat down to talk about what 'freedom' meant to us and began profiling people who didn't have their basic freedom. Hunger is a big crisis. The hungry are not free. We called our campaign 'Free The Hungry',” says Jaitali Dedhia from TBI.
The team started their 'Free The Hungry' campaign on Milaap to help Mission 500k efforts in Delhi, Guwahati, and Lucknow. The campaign was shared in TBI networks and met its target amount and more in just 5 days. In all, Rs 281,450 was raised to feed 11,760 people in the three cities. The TBI team has taken the first step, throwing open the onus of helping the needy in India.
RHA - Noida coordinator Namita Taneja feels that crowdfunding helped the team reach out to a larger audience. “When the need is clear, people come together to help. The campaigns helped us reach out to people who wanted to give back to the country on Independence Day,” she says.
Feeding the hungry, an instrument of change
In India, 194 million people go hungry every day. The war on hunger is only a small part of the work envisioned by the RHA. “The more you help in feeding the hungry, the more you realise you've just scratched surface. This is only the start. More important is getting together to help. Our volunteers often begin mentoring children, helping them out through education,” says Neel.
The idea is to make the suffering of the less fortunate more visible to the privileged citizen and the success of the two campaigns would indicate they are on the right track.
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