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From haves to have-nots

Apart from long-term poverty alleviation, a number of NGOs are helping meet the short term urgent needs of the poor such as food and hygienic living

09th November 2018, 03:39 Hrs

ANISH DHOPESHWARKAR


In India 194 million people go to sleep on empty stomach every night. Every year 3,00,000 children die just because they don’t get sufficient nutritious food. Hunger is to date one of our greatest problems. Two gentlemen from Delhi who were moved by this issue decided to act. They founded Robin Hood Army, which strives to empower the poor with access to food.  

The NGO collects excessive food from restaurants,parties, and distributes it among the poor. Robin Hood Army began its operation in Goa in August 2018, when three young friends Saket Prasad, Succhi Gaonkar  and Nilesh Sharma from Mapusa joined the hunger free India movement. 

A quick conversation with Saket  tells us why he decided to join the RHA. “I used to stay in Nasik during my higher secondary education and  two of my friends there were part of this organisation. Being curious, I enquired, and was introduced to this movement.” 

When he returned to Goa, he shared this noble idea with his friends and they conducted their first drive in Chimbel, followed by Mapusa and Vasco. Saket recollects one incident during Ganesh Chaturthi where he took two kids who were begging at a restaurant. When the owner enquired and came to know about it,  he decided to give them a 50% off on the bill as his contribution towards the cause. 

“Goa being a small and developed region we don’t have well defined slum area or hunger and poverty, and  at some places we have the system of food bank,” informs Saket. At present they have group of nine members all over Goa and have successfully completed four food distribution drives. RHA’s Goa volunteers now plan to rope in more restaurants, and increase their strength from nine in all Goa to nine in each city.   

Hospitality industry of Goa is a major contributor to Goan economy. Employing thousands of locals, generating GDP and revenue for the exchequer in millions of rupees. But besides attracting and serving the tourists, hospitality industry contributes to the society in another remarkable way. 

Sundara foundation, a NGO from Mumbai has signed an agreement with Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to setup a soap recycling plant in Ashadeep school for special children, Vasco. Sundara foundation is a NGO which collects soaps from hotels, recycles it and distributes it among rural and tribal school children, giving them a better and more hygienic life.  

 “TTAG has approached all the hotels and asked them to collect and deposit their soaps in the collection pit set up in every GTDC hotels,” avers Savio Messias, president of TTAG. “Next, the collected material is handed over to Ashadeep special school where the children are trained to recycle the soaps. These pieces of soap are later distributed by Sundara foundation in tribal belts of Maharashtra.” Previously,  waste pieces of soap were being dumped by hoteliers in various dumping grounds and couldn’t be processed by waste management plants. 

“Hotels are charged a minimal fee for disposing their soaps with TTAG, and the money collected is given to the children of Ashadeep school as pocket money, “ adds Messias.