Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Young Enthusiasts Who Use Surplus Food to Feed the Poor - Robin Hood Army

Blogger Amit Agarwal on his blog Safarnaamaa... सफ़रनामा... has written a terse poem on the topic I am about to discuss. Let me quote the poem here:

रोटी खाऊँ मैं
या खा रही मुझको
रोटी की आस

The lines are a pungent take on hunger. Hunger is like a sharp-edged weapon that cuts you through but does not let you die. It is death in its living waking state. Harsh, unrelenting, brutal. The poet uses pun (यमक ) on the word 'खा' to drive home the point. That is great poetry - serving the purpose of a penetrating insight in the best literary form possible..

Food is a basic necessity. Even Buddha realized that he needed food to keep his body functioning. It was only through this body, that he could attain enlightenment. And when famished, even he could not concentrate. 

How long have you tried to remain hungry? A few hours, maybe. Or if you are a religion-driven, fast-keeping person, maybe a day or two. How has it felt? Have you heard the stomach grumble? Have you whined a bit? Have you felt tempted? Perhaps yes. But you always knew that this hunger was going to end soon.

But have you felt the stomach churn and make you writhe in pain? Have you felt the world going dark as you felt dizzy and fainted since you had not eaten for long - and how long, you know not, since you lost count of it? Have you known that the starvation that stabs you today is going to pierce you further tomorrow? Have you known how it feels to be killed every second of every minute of every day? Have you experienced the need to vomit out the emptiness that the stomach holds, if only you knew how? Perhaps no. I have not. I have been fortunate by an absurd stroke of fate to have been born lucky, raised well, fed well. My pantry is full, my kitchen smelling of delicious and nutritious food everyday. I do not know what hunger really means although I can sense the pain and anguish of the undernourished, famished people and children on the streets. I feel their torment and distress.

But there are others who feel the pain and take steps to alleviate it. And one such group of enthusiastic and passionate volunteers is the Robin Hood Army.

I don't remember how I chanced upon an article which described the work they were doing. I remember reading about the group being active in Faridabad, my city. I felt a sense of pride when I read it. I wanted to go and see them working, and perhaps join them when I went back home. Then, a few days later, I got to read another article on them which stated that they had spread not just in many Indian cities but in Pakistan too. This intrigued me further and I explored a bit more. I found out that Anand Sinha and Neel Ghose were the minds at work here. I discovered that they had modeled their work on something that was already being done in another country. It was Refood, an organization in Lisbon, Portugal that Neel Ghose had been attached to for some time that gave him the idea of starting an army of volunteers for his own country.

The logo of the Robin Hood Army - Image Source here

In a matter of a few days, their group had worked wonders. The motto of their work was to make surplus food available for the poor and the hungry. They did this by contacting restaurants. The response they got only egged them on. The owners of eateries were eager to help and in some cases would even prepare something extra to help them in their mission. As the volunteers did their bit, they learned that hunger problem was a monster that kept getting bigger and bigger. The menacing merciless beast of starvation needed to be dealt with urgently. There was no looking back now.

The uniqueness about the Robin Hood Army is stated in their own words. They do not need any 'monetary contributions'. They just need 'your time'. On Independence Day, 2015, they waged war against hunger in an exceptionally commendable way. They launched  #Mission100k which involved hundreds of students from India and Pakistan and fed more than one lakh people in both the countries. Independence does not only mean freedom from colonial domination. Independence also means freedom from the enemy within and hunger has emerged as the most powerful enemy in both the countries. What students learn from their participation in these efforts is way more valuable than what they might read in books of history, economics or sociology. 

The Robin Hood Army is currently active in more than 18 cities, with more than 1000 volunteers, as per the data on their website. They had started in 2014 with just 6 Robins, the name used by those actively involved in the work. They serve the poor, the homeless, those living in orphanages, night shelters and public hospitals. They are being helped by the youth in every city who collect food and manage the distribution of it to the needy too.

We have all read about the English Robin Hood who would rob the rich to feed the poor. He was a law-breaker, but he had good intentions. Choosing him as their icon speaks volumes about the Robin Hood Army. Their hero is someone who believes that there are riches which are lying around in surplus and if consumed will only do favor to the needy. The Robin Hood Army has waged their war against hunger without threatening or angering anyone. They have turned affluent people into allies and volunteers. They have raised awareness and spread the vibe of positive change. 

They are young, they are positive, they are an epitome of energy-driven force that hopes to make a difference every single night with every single edible grain that is edible. They are the Robins of today.

To access their Facebook page, please click here

To access their website, click here

Written for Indiblogger #SpreadTheVibe in association with


  1. It is heartening to see a group of youngsters doing such noble work. A great way to pay back to the society and save people from the pangs of hunger.
    Swami Vivekananda had said 'So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every person a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.'
    Thank you Sunaina for spreading the vibe about the young Robins.

    1. Thanks Somali....Great words by a great man!

  2. Hunger is very devastating physically and mentally. Even I am fortunate to not have experienced it.
    However, I am happy to say I have hardly left food for has been sort of my record. That much we should all do!

    Delighted to read the story of Robin Hood... Ind and Pak would probably be at the top of the table requiring such help. Cheers to the Army!

    1. That is quite a bit that you are doing Alok. I cannot say that myself. I have been guilty of throwing stuff but lately have become more wise when it comes to buying and cooking. I am learning.

  3. A powerful narration on the commendable initiative to feed the people who lack access to food and nutrition. Great post, Sunaina.

  4. Great article and a wonderful tribute to RHA..
    I, like Alok, feel good that I don't ever waste food..even in a lavish party..
    Salutes to RHA for their work!
    Am delighted to be quoted by an erudite writer like you, Sunaina! Thank you for this honour:)

    1. Yours words of wisdom are such that they remain with the reader for long. I am just doing them a little justice. As for reducing food wastage, if each one of us becomes mindful of all this, it will be a great achievement.

  5. You are very powerful with your words. The way you described 'hunger' in the first half of your post makes me say this. There was no way I could have stopped reading untill end.

    Each one of all the Samaritans mentioned all the posts in this contest are all equally adorable and is second to none, but surely your well crafted post on Robin Hood Army gives them an edge over the others.

    1. True Saket, #SpreadTheVibe has been true to words. There are great people honored here, good messages spread across. Thanks for complimenting my writing!

  6. Very well written indeed.
    Hunger is the ultimate pain. You have described it beautifully. The noble work that these youth are doing is indeed spreading good vibes. God bless them!

  7. This army is w mightier one, hats off to their commitment and selflessness. Hunger is same for all. It doesn't know rich or poor, child or adult. This post must not read like an ordinary one, this is extra-ordinary. Your post made the world to know that there exist a team, which rose to fight the devil. Those who have the possibility they'll either join this mission or support them. Thank you for sharing this Sunaina. :)

    1. Yes. That is what the Robins want. Join them. Work with them. They do not want money.

  8. my best wishes to the good people who are working so hard ...

    there are indeed so many lovely human beings ..


  9. Sunaina, you've described the pangs of hunger in such a heart wrenching way. As I read your post, I kept thinking about the poor, malnourished children. It made my heart heavy :'(

    I am so happy to know about these beautiful souls who are working so hard. Thanks for this touching post. It did not only show the compassion of the young enthusiasts, but also depicted your beautiful heart full of compassion.