LUCKNOW: In Mahoba, one of Bundelkhand’s most backward districts, a bank goes to the doorstep of the poorest to turn the idea of ‘right to food’ into a reality. Managed by a group of 40 youths and 5 elders, the ‘roti bank’ gives home-cooked rotis and vegetables to the needy every day.
For this, the youths knock on the doors of common residents, asking them to donate two rotis to their bank so that those who’re hungry may be fed. The initiative, which made humble beginnings in April, has now turned into a movement which feeds at least 400 persons every day.
The group, which began its work with beggars and destitute at the railway station, now covers a major part of the city. The beneficiaries include infirm patients and attendants outside hospitals, destitute on the roads and railway station, slum dwellers and poor undergoing treatment at home.
To them, the boys are simply god sent. “I bless these boys from the core of my heart. They are God personified,” said elderly Ram Prakash, who cannot work because he suffers from TB.
The group divided the city into eight sectors to run the bank. Thereafter, they prepared a list of volunteers who go in sets of two to collect food. The collection from a sector is kept at a common point from where the distributor volunteers take charge. “The only appeal we make to people is to provide fresh food. No stale food is entertained,” said Haji Muddan who heads the group.
The bank, started under the aegis of Bundeli Samaj, now finds many supporters. Some caterers also offer help. But the group is hesitant in spreading its wings. “We are scared of wastage. We will not increase operations further till we are sure of the beneficiaries,” said Tara Patkar, whose brainchild the Roti Bank is.
Social activists appreciate the people’s movement in Mahoba. “Those debating over food security of every individual must pay a visit to Bundelkhand and see how hapless people struggle for a square meal,” said social activist and food security activist Arundhati Dhuru.
The volunteers have their own reason for joining. “We usually spent time gossiping with friends in the evening… When the group approached us for the cause, I found it meaningful. I am truly satisfied over my decision,” said Shahdab, a school dropout, who collects and distributes rotis alternately
First published in Times of India