These “robins” provide food to the needy in hundreds of cities around the world, even during the COVID-19 pandemic


In 150 cities throughout India, the Robin Hood Army has seen an enormous rise in individuals providing food for the needy. The purpose? Lockdown worries, and an innate want to lend a serving to hand

“Our 20-kilogram happiness pack accommodates 12 kilos of rice, 5 kilos of dal, two kilos of sugar, one kilo of salt and two litres of oil… it is a bit more than 20 kilos, however that’s the pack,” reels off Neel Ghose, co-founder of Robin Hood Army (RHA), over a telephone name from Delhi.

This — and a 10-kilogram bundle containing half the rations — is what “Robins” by the hundred have been handing out in cities and villages throughout the nation over the previous few months, to assist fellow residents tide over the string of lockdowns in place to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

Change of plans

This will not be how the volunteer-driven organisation normally operates: the key activity of this military has all the time been to provide scorching, fresh-cooked meals to those that would in any other case not have entry to it. That was the purpose when it started as a two-person outfit supported by a number of eating places in Delhi’s Hauz Khas space in 2014; and that’s the purpose it has retained to date in all of its 182 chapters unfold throughout 13 international locations.

The distinction this 12 months is two-fold, says Neel: “First, restaurants’ food count had gone down because most of them had temporarily closed. Second, we had to rethink how we went about serving. Once the pandemic hit, our Robins were at risk. So we pivoted: we started a senior patrol, where anybody could log a request on our website for their aged relatives and parents. Our Robins — we have Robins across every neighbourhood in India — would go and help them, taking them to hospitals and buying medicine.”

Then over time, native Government guidelines and security tools have been found out, and common operations resumed with a number of guidelines in place.

Robin Hood Academy

  • An offshoot of the military is the Robin Hood Academy, which goals at serving to street-children get an schooling
  • Present in 81 cities, the “academy” has a three-level curriculum that volunteers comply with to educate kids, however the final purpose is to get them enrolled in colleges in as many instances as potential
  • It is at present current in 84 cities in India and has reached out to 7,328 college students to date, over 1,700 of whom are actually enrolled in formal colleges
  • The curriculum at every stage covers Math, Science, language, Social Studies, Art and Craft and values (like good habits and sharing)
  • There can also be an “intellectual” section at every stage, protecting issues corresponding to studying clocks and primary digital expertise

From 2014 to 2020, and from cooked meals to uncooked rations, Neel insists that the spirit of generosity in individuals in normal, stays the identical. “When Anand Sinha and I had begun this in 2014, our idea was to hand out the surplus food from restaurants at the end of each day. When we started putting the word out, restaurants offered to cook fresh food for us to distribute instead. ‘We make staff meals anyway, we will just make more of it,’ they said,” he recollects.

It is the identical kindness that he attributes to this 12 months’s development spurt. “Before the lockdown, we had been serving about 800,000 meals a month, on an average. For the last two or three months, it has been around two million meals a month. I think that there is a lot more civic consciousness: everyone wants to know how to help in their own capacity, whether as a company or as an individual. I think we now have access to sources of food and ration that we didn’t earlier,” says Neel.

The organisation’s greatest power, he states, is the “high level of ownership” in every Robin. “Someone who is leading a team in Pune or Hyderabad, who is 16 or 17 years old, does not think that someone sitting in Delhi is running it. For them, it is their own baby. And you don’t mess with that,” he factors out, including that RHA desires to retain this by staying zero-fund and fully volunteer-driven.

On the grround (Clockwise from far left) Robin Hood Army’s volunteers in Kolkata, Ujjjain and Aurangabad special arrangement

On the grround (Clockwise from far left) Robin Hood Army’s volunteers in Kolkata, Ujjjain and Aurangabad particular association
 
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

This, regardless of a 2018 Harvard Business School case examine delving into the military’s operations and questioning whether it is sustainable on an expanded scale. Neel believes the organisation’s abroad expansions have already confirmed that it’s:

“Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal have been growing rapidly. Bahrain and Malaysia have increased activities in the last mission. And then there are places such as Botswana and Nigeria, where we have drives once a month or so.”

One factor that evidently issues to Neel, is model worth on the floor, at the hyper-local stage. “In Karachi, which is at this point our strongest chapter, our brand is such that if a restaurant has a Robin Hood Army sticker, more people are likely to dine there. So restaurants give us food not just out of goodwill, but also from a business point of view.”

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