This is the story of the campaign that’s running with the belief that a handful of grain is all it takes to begin a movement – and that the poor have the power to eradicate their own hunger and poverty
According to nutritionists, a healthy diet should provide for at least 2500 calories of energy. There are 320 million people in India that barely get 1500 calories in a day, and mostly sleep hungry every night.
That too, when India possesses around 65 million tons of food-grain surpluses. Many of us get to know this fact, dwell on it for a while, and move on with our lives. Then there are people like Shakun and Hina Goyal of the MCKS Food for Hungry Foundation (FFHF), who have given this more than just a passing thought and actually stepped up to make a difference.
|Hina Goyal |
trustee and Project Coordinator,
MCKS Food for Hungry Foundation
Even though people want to help, convincing them to volunteer becomes difficult. Donation in the form of cash brings in skepticism about their money actually going to the proper channel. We needed something that was more credible in its approach.
The campaign aims to seek contributions from donors in the form of grain instead of cash. Everyday, each donor puts in a handful of grain in a bucket provided by the FFHF. This grain is collected from their home between the 25th and 30th of every month by the area coordinators of the campaign. Even the coordinators contribute grain for this cause. The grain collected from each area is sent to the MCKS FFHF office at Vasant Vihar, where it is repackaged and sent to the various beneficiaries based in New Delhi (See box).
What has made the Ek Mutthi Anaaj initiative different from various other hunger eradicating programs is the transparency with which it works. “People feel connected and directly involved with the campaign, when they give grain from the comfort of their homes and from their own hands. It is a workable solution for them and the tangibility leaves the donors as well as the coordinators feeling much more convinced and satisfied. We constantly encourage the volunteers to come to the head office in Vasant Vihar to come and monitor the entire process by helping us weigh, repack, and distribute the grain to the various beneficiaries,” claims Hina. A record of all the grain that is being received and then distributed is also maintained. Surangna Jain, an active donor, comments, “My experience in being associated with the campaign has been great. Donating in the form of grain, rather than money, assures us that our donation is being used for a genuine cause.” Anu Bajjaria, a housewife and donor, says, “Although there are various other organizations that work towards the same cause, I chose to be a donor for this one because it was convenient and I could make a difference from the comfort of my own home.”
What do the various organizations that are benefiting out of this have to say? We talked to a few of them. Ranveer Kumar, the General Secretary of the Ideal Hostel of college-going blind students (Rastriya Pragya Drishti Sansthan), says, “We end up getting about one quintal of wheat and rice and about 20 kg of daal as part of Ek Mutthi Anaaj scheme, monthly. Our requirement, however, is about 10 quintals.” Heenu Singh, the director of Salaam Balak Trust, a trust that provides shelter programs for street children also comments, “We receive about 200-250 kg of rice from Ek Mutthi Anaaj scheme. It is a great endeavor, but our requirement is a lot more.” Hina responds to this by saying, “The Ek Mutthi Anaaj scheme is a fairly recent one, and we are looking to have more donors, so we can provide more food and reach more areas of Delhi. We are also looking to tie up with colonies who can get involved with this, because eventually it should be a citizen’s initiative to help those who are hungry.” She continues by saying, “Meanwhile, we are trying to fulfill the requirements of the beneficiaries, till whatever extent we can, in the form of rice, daal and wheat. If the requirement is a lot more, the MCKS FFHF steps in and provides spices, vegetables, oils, etc accounting for a complete healthy meal.”
|My experience in being associated with the campaign has been great. Donating in the form of grain, rather than money, assures us that our donation is being used for a genuine cause. |
— Surangna Jain, Outsourcing Consultant &
Active Donor, Ek Mutthi Anaaj Campaign
When asked whether the quantity of grain they get every month from the donors is sufficient for the beneficiaries, Hina comments, “We are not really worried about the quantity that comes. Our main aim is to make people realize that they need to give in whatever form or amount possible. If everyone takes the initiative to start helping out in whatever way, big or small, it will snowball into a much bigger endeavor.” In the near future, they also plan to adhere to an average daily requirement per head, in terms of nutritional/calorific values. “As of now, we cannot really function on those bases as it is too vast a field. We are concentrating on giving the organizations enough food for one meal. If you have nothing to eat, you are not going to be bothered about how many calories you are going to get, you are going to be concerned about putting food into your stomach. Hopefully, we will be able to come to a point where we can take care of every person’s full nutritional requirement in the future,” Hina comments.
How has the response been like in the past six months? As Hina puts it, “The campaign initially started by word of mouth. I called up my friends and relatives and asked them to be a part of it. But now, six months later, we have roughly about 500 household donors.” In Delhi, the household donors stay at New Friends Colony, Defence Colony, Sainik Farms, Ashok Vihar, Vasant Vihar and Rohini. Besides these, various educational institutes like the New Era Public School and several establishments across Delhi are participating in the campaign, as either donors or coordinators.
Tel: 32964676 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Will the campaign extend beyond Delhi? It has already been initiated in Jaipur, Kolkata and a school in Guwahati, and on its way to being implemented in Mumbai and Orissa. We could feel the pride and joy in Hina, when she said, “It is good to be a part of something that is becoming so strong a movement. We plan to specially run the campaign in more schools and encourage children to actively contribute. We want them to become more responsible towards those in need as children are the future!”
written by Ramirez, March 17, 2011
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