Spreading the Independence Day spirit

Published: August 6, 2016
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The Robin Hood Army aims to feed the hungry residents of India and Pakistan by taking donated food from restaurants and distributing it in low-income areas. PHOTO: COURTESY ROBIN HOOD ARMY

The Robin Hood Army aims to feed the hungry residents of India and Pakistan by taking donated food from restaurants and distributing it in low-income areas. PHOTO: COURTESY ROBIN HOOD ARMY

KARACHI: Hunger is rampant but those willing to combat it are few, which is where the Robin Hood Army comes in. The volunteer organisation, which operates in India and Pakistan, feeds the poor by taking food from affluent restaurants. Now, the group has pledged to feed 500,000 people in seven countries — India, Bangladesh, Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.

With August 14 around the corner, volunteers of the Karachi chapter have promised to fulfill this pledge. Co-founder of the Karachi chapter Anam Rafiq and volunteer Sameer Beg spoke to The Express Tribune about their Independence Day mission.

“Our aim is to get the food from restaurants and try not to let it go to waste. Many people go hungry at night, so, keeping this in mind, we pledge to feed 500,000 poor people in seven countries,” she vowed. This plan is in line with last year’s tradition of feeding 100,000 hungry people in India and Pakistan during Independence Day festivities in both the countries.

Rafiq said for Karachi they plan to have drop-boxes for old people homes, orphanages and for people on the street as well as the slums, with 10,000 mouths to feed in the city alone. They have yet to chalk out a locality where they will distribute the food amongst the poor, who, according to Beg, have not eaten for the past three days.

In recent years, the poverty level has increased and so have the number of mouths to feed. “Poor people are coming in from Balochistan and interior Sindh towards Karachi,” explained Beg. “A year back we served food in Malir Kund and there were about 200 mouths to feed. A while back when we visited we had to feed about 550 people,” he said. “These are people who haven’t seen food in about three days.”

“We really feel sorry for these people and what fate has in store for them,” lamented Beg. He named some of Karachi’s restaurants who actively participate in donating their final food products to them for distribution, such as Coffee Chalet, Lal’s Chocolate, Pane and Amore, Espresso, Cosmopolitan and Pie in the Sky, to name a few.

“They react with a big thank you,” said Rafiq. “When we give cupcakes to the kids there is always a twinkle in their eyes. These people are very appreciative and very sweet when accepting the food,” she added.

How it began

The story of Robin Hood Army began with Neel Ghose spearheading this mission in India in 2014. According to Rafiq, his mission was ‘to feed the poor and help with the surplus food wastage’.

In Pakistan, the organisation began on February 15, 2015. Rafiq recalled that the first two times they served home-cooked food. Currently there are 60 volunteers in the Karachi chapter and they feed as many as 700 to 1,200 people on any given Sunday.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2016.

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