According to CSR Journal Indians waste the same amount of food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes. As per the United Nations Development Programme report, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. Approximately 21 million tonnes of wheat is wasted in India alone. Wedding ceremonies to Birthday party are known to dump surplus food in dustbins and garbage bins. On contrary millions of orphans and destitute suffer without two meals a day. This paradox of surplus supply but lack of food for the needy is addressed by many organizations with programs like Akshaya Patra by ISCKON being prominent. But here is an inspiring story of a group of youth who are professionals in varied fields with intuition to feed the needy stomachs of the nation through a charitable trust named after Robin Hood. The most amazing fact about Robin Hood Army is they never accept monetary donations and expect citizens to contribute in the form of food or volunteer service.
Two youngsters Mr. Neel Ghose and Mr. Anand Sinha both aged 27 are the brain behind this initiative that has spread across 11 countries which include Pakistan, Australia, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Here is the saga of Neel and his team that has catered to approximately 1,848,210 people with a decentralized team of nearly 9000 volunteers.
The Spark for incepting Robin Hood Army
Neel was working in Lisbon, Portugal where he accidentally came across a volunteer group called Re-food that redistributed surplus food to the needy through a network of dedicated volunteers. He spent some time with the head of Re-food to understand its working model. Soon a spark ignited in his mind to replicate the same back home as his country badly needed such mission. Thus, Robin Hood Army has its origin in Portugal and has spread across 22 cities in India alone and 41 cities across the globe. As we know, Robin Hood is a mythological icon who looted wealthy to help poor masses. The current Robin Hood Army gathers food from surplus ones and redistributes to the hungry stomachs. Neel joined hands with a peer Anand Sinha on August 26, 2014, and started Robin Hood Army in New Delhi.
The Growth approach
The key supplier of food essentials for Robin Hood Army is restaurants identified across 41 cities. The mode of operation is decentralized with the each city unit identifying priorities as per the ground reality. For instance, Bengaluru city has less street dwelling population, so the unit based in Bengaluru concentrates on supplying food to orphanages and old age homes. Whereas the City of Delhi is known for the awful winter season and Delhi unit aims at ensuring better shelter facilities for the needy in hostile weather conditions and not mere food supply. In a nutshell, according to Neel, each unit operates like a start-up firm with a sustainable growth objective. The Team Robin Hood Army has a dress code with volunteers always wearing Green T- Shirt during their mission. Most appealing aspect in the growth of Robin Hood Army is till date they do not accept monetary help from donors.
Well Organized Campaigns
Team Robin Hood utilizes all forms of media to spread their message of extending arms to support the needy. The team particularly utilizes social media like Twitter and Facebook to launch campaigns effectively. Prominent among them is their Diwali Campaign in October 2014 with #BeRobinthisDiwali hashtag that gave momentum to collect toys, sweets, and clothes for the needy in large numbers. Similarly, their campaign aimed at providing warm clothes to Delhi destitute in December 2014 winter season with hashtag #BeRobinThisChristmas was also very popular.
The most popular campaign of team Robin Hood Army till date is #Mission100K launched as part of Independence Day celebrations in the year 2015. The objective of #Mission100k was to serve food to 100,000 homeless people on Independence Day. The mission witnessed an overwhelming response with 141 colleges and organizations spread across 23 cities taking part in it. Approximately 42 orphanages were served with this mission.
Pakistan Relation with Robin Hood Army-RHA
Mr. Neel Ghose has left no stone unturned in expanding the operation of Robin Hood Army. He got reconnected with his college peer Sarah Afridi who studied with him at London School of Economics to give his condolences for Peshawar School Children Massacre. During the discussion, Sarah Afridi was moved with the activities of RHA and thus the Pakistani wing of Robin Hood Army came LIVE on February 15, 2015. Today, RHA units are operational in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore cities.
International Expansion of RHA
Team Neel is rigorously working to expand its operation across the globe. During the tenure February 2015 to February 2017, the RHA has set up chapters in many countries including Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Humbleness in Accepting Sree Narayana Guru Award
Mr. Neel Ghose has time and again told media that his team never expected to be one among the stellar awardees to receive Sree Narayana Guru Honour. When questioned about the road map of RHA in next five to ten years, Neel has frankly spoken his heart opening that they do not over-think about the future. But adds that “We do not stop until we ensure best is provided to improve the condition of homeless and needy.” Most amazing facts about Indian society is revealed by Neel who quotes instances like “In Hyderabad, four of their volunteers fed around 970 people just with excess food from one wedding.” This instance alone is sufficient to prove that Indian society has no dearth of food resources but unfortunately, it is going waste in the process of feeding those who do not have a dearth of it while in the other extreme many go to sleep without a plain meal to suffice the hunger.
Robin Hood Army is one such youth initiative that has exponentially grown in the span of 3 years to serve across the globe in 41 cities by feeding 18.5 Lakh of needy people and probably one of the few organizations that decline to accept monetary donations. The team lead of RHA, Mr. Neel Ghose is personification of humbleness and Kalam Fan Club treats him on par with various social workers who have been featured in our portal like Mr. Naryanan Krishnan of Akshaya Foundation, Mr. Kamala Lochan Baliarsingh a destitute who fights for the cause of stray dogs and many such personalities who have taken a pledge to uproot starvation from mother earth. We are proud of men in green aka Robin Hood Army.