It is said that if you are determined to make a difference in the society, then you will overcome every hurdle and achieve your goal.
Believing in these positive words, a group of ten people in Bundelkhand’s most backward district Mahoba has started a ‘Roti Bank’ in April this year.
The Roti Bank gives vegetables and chapattis (rotis) to the needy every day. Daily in the evening, youngsters knock on locals’ doors and ask them to donate two rotis to the bank.
“The only appeal we make to the people is to provide fresh food. No stale food is entertained,” said Haji Muddan, who heads the group.
The group has divided the city into six zones and each zone has one in-charge. The collection from each zone is kept at a common point from where distributors or volunteers take charge.
The food is then repackaged and distributed amongst the elderly, poor or to anyone who can’t afford a meal.
The volunteers of the group also mouth-feed those people who can’t eat themselves due to some physical problem.
Chandra Kumari, who is visually impaired, said:
“Earlier we had to beg for food but it was not sure whether you would get enough alms to buy a meal. Since Roti Bank started in Mahoba, I have never gone without food. God bless the pious souls who started such an initiative.”
The bank began with a humble beginning. A member of the bank, Asgar said that this novel idea stuck them when they saw children begging at a bus stop one morning.
“We told children that we would give them food but not money. They readily agreed and we had them have food at an eatery nearby. The children also said that they would stop begging if they get food.”
That was the time when the idea of Roti Bank idea emerged. “We knew we couldn’t do it alone and needed the support of the common people, who were not only capable of lending us a helping hand but also willing to do so,” Asgar said.
So, the group started with a process where each family was supposed to cook for five people on a rotational basis. But this process didn’t work out as the burden fell on the women of the family.
After some modifications, they chalked out the current process and it worked.
With an overwhelming support from the locals, the group of five elders and 40 volunteers is able to feed at least 400 people daily.
A homemaker and one of the contributors of the bank, Lali Devi, said:
“There are several colonies in our town where people go hungry for days. I contribute to Roti Bank as I think it is our duty to be compassionate to fellow human beings.”
The bank is not supported by government or any other organization.
Also, it sets an example of communal harmony as both Hindus and Muslims work for the bank.
“Our only wish is that no one should die of hunger. I keep Roja (fasting during the month of Ramzan) and offer namaz (prayer) but I know that we will be blessed by the Almighty more if we serve these poor and helpless people,” said Asgar.
Despite the volunteers having a regular job, they make sure that they take out time for collecting the food.
“A majority of the volunteers are engaged in either some job or have their own business. In the day time they are busy in their work but make sure to spare some time in the evening,” Asgar added.
The bank currently provides one meal but plans to extend it to two meals a day.
“We eventually plan to spread this movement across Bundelkhand region,” said Muddan.