Who doesn’t know Robinhood? Young or old, rich or poor, everyone has read or heard about the fairy tale Robinhood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor. While all of us wish, that there was another Robinhood today to remove all inequalities, none of us ever tried to become one. Until one day, moved by the plight of malnutrition omnipresent in the narrow lanes of Delhi slums, 5 guys decided to create a way. They churned their brains to come up with a simple solution: Collect extra food from places, and distribute them where people could not afford even 2 meals a day. Without any address, any office, or any infrastructure, on one August evening in 2014, their ‘Robinhood Army’ marched out. Starting from their houses, collecting extra food from restaurants on the way, they met at a common point, decided where to take the food, and took it there. Being in full time employment elsewhere, they could only afford to do this once a week. Slowly, as the news spread, others joined in.
And in just 18 months, the Robinhood Army had become 1200 strong and spread in 18 cities, including Pakistan. “This fast spread is attributed to the concept and approach” says Apurv Mishra, one of its co-founders. So how does the group work in a city? First the groups scout and map out the places where there is a real deficiency of food, and then on the decided day, date and time of working, all the volunteers collect the surplus food from various restaurants and food joints on their way. They gather at the meeting point, and then disperse from there to the identified needy places. The conveyance expenses are borne by the volunteers themselves, which is an epitome of the true intentions they have for serving the community. Their common meeting point is obviously one of the volunteer’s residence or a public place. ”We have established various Army Chapters in all the cities, and it is a compulsion for the chapters to operate at least once in a week, to keep the initiative going” says Apurv.
There are generally three assumptions, that dominate the idea of starting up any Voluntary organization or an NGO: Huge amount of financial investment, sacrificing the high paid jobs and a sustainable infrastructure. But in the last 18 months of their working, none of the above three factors were needed for the army to create their standing in society. The Robinhood Army has a non negotiable rule, of not involving monetary terms and concerns in their operations, as they believe that engaging themselves into a financial web, will distract them, and will contradict their true motive of social service.
Though, the army faced many challenges at its inception, but through continuous committed efforts, they won all hearts and overcame all obstacles. Slowly restaurants joined in for long term partnerships, and people in slums helped us find many more deprived places. But the real moment of happiness came, when we heard that our restaurant partners started preparing eatables specially for the distribution, rather than dispensing stale cuisines and leftovers.
Says Apurv: “If we really want to make a difference in the society, there is no reason to wait and waste our precious time. We all have opportunities, and resources. If we have the willingness to contribute a few hours for a social cause, It takes just a step, to move forward”. Anyone in any city of the world can join the RHA in their city, or start a Robinhood Army themselves, to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry.
Story by : Tanima Chakraborty | Compiled by : Nikhil Sharma
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