Robin Hood Army – An Initiative To Eliminate Hunger From The World
One of the most remarkable stories to have come out in India is that of the Robin Hood Army India. This is a non-profit that picks up surplus food from restaurants and other sources and distributes them to those who need it the most – the poor and the disadvantaged.
Robin Hood Army India founded on 26th August 2014, and headquartered at Delhi is a fast growing non-government organization. It is more of a campaign than just an organization – which is today present in over 41 cities in India and abroad, including Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Jabalpur, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Pune, and Mumbai.They also have a presence in Pakistan and have committed volunteers in Lahore and Karachi. Recently, the organization has spread to other countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Volunteers at Robin Hood Army
What is most interesting about the group of people who work for this organization is how young they are. Most of the RHA India volunteers are in their early 20s and 30s. There is even one volunteer who is just 5 years old! They are a group of professionals, college students, and recent graduates – most of them belonging to common friends’ circles – who want to make a difference.
As the organization says so proudly on its website,(robinhoodarmy)“On RHA’s first night of distribution, we realized that helping the less fortunate might feel good personally, but honestly feeding 50 odd people a night, once a week is not going to create any real difference in a country where millions are starving. For a problem this acute, we need to reach out to more people, more restaurants, and more cities – the deadline being: yesterday.”
There is today over 8,870 Robins, as the volunteers are called, who have served a total of 1,848,210 people in over 41 cities and counting. The Robins are generally young people who venture out at night wearing green T-shirts.
Robin Hood Army – ‘serve the hungry’
They have one goal, to serve the hungry and homeless. How do they do that? By providing them with the leftover food from restaurants and caterers.
The RHA India has certainly been covered widely by the media and has seen the involvement of celebrities such as actor/director Farhan Akhtar. They began small, as a group of just 6 people in New Delhi. They have certainly become much bigger since then and now have 350 active volunteers in Delhi alone, feeding 2,000 people.
Neel Ghose, one of the co-founders of the group explains what motivated them to start this program. Neel was a part of the Refood program in Lisbon, Portugal, which feeds the hungry and homeless in that country. He was motivated to do something similar in India.
Neel says, “In our first night of our distribution, we gave food to a hundred people, and it felt conflicting… We realized how deep the problem is. It may feel good to my conscience; it is not making enough of an impact. The motivating factor is that food is going to people who need it the most, but there’s so much more to do.”
Now, there are a number of NGOs in India. There are many that serve no useful purpose but exist only to massage the ego of their founders. RHA India is different.
Robin Hood Army India is different
What makes the Robin Hood Army India different from other NGOs in India is –
- It is completely driven by volunteers and does not have a governing body or centralized authority,
- every volunteer is a leader by his or her own right,
- there is no hierarchy of any sort in the group, and
- everybody is equal, whether it is a co-founder or someone who is just one week old in the NGO.
This is a refreshing change and it ensures that the focus remains on providing help and assistance to the poor and the needy, and not on arguments or fights over who gets what position within the organization.
Distribution of food by Robin Hood Army
The restaurants that provide their leftovers to the volunteers of the RHA Army can see how selfless and how committed these young people are to serve those who need help the most. It does not take long to convince them.
The Robins generally distribute food on weekends as that’s when they are free from work. Most of the people who work in the Robin Hood Army India are working professionals so they will have to make time from their busy schedules.
Robins group themselves into clusters of 5 to 10 volunteers, and spread the work day wise. In many cities such as Hyderabad, the Robins work 5 days a week, instead of just on weekends, as hunger strikes every day and not only on weekends.
Robins connected through social media
These are socially connected individuals who have been brought up in the digital age. They make use of Facebook to recruit new members and coordinate the work more effectively. The Robin Hood Army works extra hard during festivals such as Diwali and Christmas, where they encourage people to distribute sweets, clothes, and foods to those who need them the most.
Robin Hood Army is today much more than just a group that feeds the homeless. As Neel explains: “We’ve associated with a few orphanages in Bangalore to provide them stationery and goods. Delhi has a very harsh winter, so we’re collecting warm clothes and blankets — we’ve put collection boxes in our offices, and we’re urging other members to do the same. In Kolkata, we’ve created a Robin Hood Well, in Forum Mall, where people can drop in their clothes.”
Another co-founder, Anand Sinha, works as a start-up CEO during day time and as a Robin Hood serving the poor and needy at night. Anand says, “Since October, we’ve got a lot of more volunteers through the social media forums, we’ve started out in Jaipur two weeks back, and started distributing winter clothes to the homeless in Delhi.”
Now you too can volunteer to serve Robin Hood Army India. The group is forever on the lookout for new volunteers, and this is your chance to make an impact. Click on this link to join Robin Hood Army India. Let’s make hunger a thing of the past in our country!