By Ashish Kumar (LMB)
Millennials are often perceived as self-centric and more often than not, elders complain of the lack of empathy and compassion in the young ones. They have been alleged to have become armchair experts with passionate views on one and all problems around them when the real actions appear to be frugal at best.
But there are some examples of young noble spirits that suggest otherwise. It’s not all gloom and doom around. Its not often that you come across such gallant souls who selflessly indulge in hardest of social works, spreading contagious smiles and making the world a more humane place.
The world is a lively place and there is optimism all around. This belief of mine was bolstered when I came across Ms. Arushi Batra from ‘Robinhood Army’ at a recent seminar. She is the co-founder of this not-for-profit entity, a volunteer based organization that works to get surplus food from restaurants and communities to the less fortunate.
There were some staggering observations made in her keynote address, besides telling how their organization is trying to help bridge the gap. It was shocking to hear that one-third of all the food produced in the world is never consumed and a child dies every 10 seconds from hunger. 82% of hungry people live in countries with food surpluses, not food shortages and one in every eight people sleeps hungry each night.
Although, the primary responsibility lies with the governments and administration to sustainably deal with the situation, it’s encouraging to see the involvement of civil society to do what it can for improving the lives of less fortunate people.
Robinhood Army is a 100% volunteer based organization which is run through neighbourhood chapters formed by friends, colleagues and family members of local Robins (as they call it). They work by collaborating with restaurants, food chains and families within 500 meters radius who are willing to provide surplus food for free. The food is packed and served to identified needy people in the locality who have a scarcity of nutritious food and can use that surplus for survival.
With growing participation and enthusiastic volunteer support, the organization has reached 103 cities globally and served as much as 9 million people which is not a small number for a non-commercial entity. According to Arushi, the organization has support from all sections of the society, rich and poor, government officers, businessmen, doctors and engineers alike.
Apart from providing food, the Robins have also started volunteer based education programs where one can teach underprivileged children and contribute to nation building. All that is required of a volunteer is 3 hours of work a week at least twice a month.
The model adopted by the Robinhood Army team is aimed purely at reducing systemic deficiencies and demand-supply mismatch. Howsoever small be the scale, it has succeeded in making a mark in the society and touched millions of lives.