Pune Gets 500+ Women Bouncers From Among Abused & Helpless Women, Thanks To This Gritty Former Actor

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Bhagyashree is a trained woman bouncer from Ranragini  Academy. She came young into this profession, persuaded by her mother, a former domestic help and feisty woman bouncer now. It might seem quite surreal that women from the marginalised section of the society are breaking into a male bastion and often outdoing their male counterparts in a domain dominated by men all over the world.

Bhagyashree and her mother are not the only ones, there is Shweta and there are 537 more women in Pune who have been trained to be bouncers and are garnering applaud from around the globe. “The whole credit goes to Madam,” reiterates Shweta and Bhagyashree, referring to their guardian angel – Deepa Parab. This former actor from Pune runs Ranragini where she trains women from a lesser privileged background to become woman bouncers.

No one has ever become poor by giving- Anne Frank

Shweta became a bouncer after her husband’s accident

“I am training here for the past 7-8 months to become a bouncer. I have always been just a housewife, never considered a career of my own. As luck would have it, my husband met with an accident and failed to continue working. Desperate for some work, any work, I finally ended up with Madam through my friend Sangeeta, another bouncer. Now, as you can see, I am a strong, happy and proud woman,” shares Shweta.

Like Shweta, the women at Ranragini all have compelling life stories of struggle, abuse, insult and a final triumph.

How Deepa Parab started Ranragini Academy

 India was hardly acquainted with a woman bouncer even a few years ago. Today, they can be found in almost every major city of the country, thanks to Deepa who started it all.

“I wanted to join the Maharashtra Police and was training myself for the same. However, for certain personal setbacks, it did not happen in time. Meanwhile, I used to work as a makeup artist in the film industry, which also landed me a few small roles in Marathi films. During my time in the industry, I used to spot leading actors and actresses being accompanied by these heavily-built, strong men in black uniforms. I came to know that they are the ‘bodyguards’. I was intrigued and wanted to join them. Since I already underwent police training, I soon started working as a female bouncer along with very few other ladies,” recalls Deepa.

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When Deepa herself started out as a female bouncer, everybody would consider a woman bouncer as incompetent, if not an altogether impossible entity. Naturally, the work they would receive in the initial days would be inherently trivial – assisting drunk women outside pub washrooms, for instance. Deepa would request authorities to offer more significant work to her, knowing well how she and her counterparts can excel at any job assigned to them. However, the event organisers would brush aside her repeated appeals terming women bouncers as ‘incapable’.

Ranragini Women Bouncers
Deepa Parab (centre)

That’s when Deepa decided to move back from Mumbai to her hometown Pune and start her own team of women bouncers. She started Ranragini Academy around three years ago. At first, very few women stepped in.

The breakthrough came during the famous Ganesha Chaturthi in Pune, where 12 women trained by Deepa earned accolades for efficiently handling a maddening crowd and ensuring the safety of the women and the elderly. “They ensured each and every senior devotee can smoothly have the ‘Darshan’ of the deity. Never before has anyone seen such systematic management at Ganesh festival. Soon, we were showered with praise and flooded with calls from women willing to join Ranragini Academy,” Deepa shares.

How the women are trained at Ranragini

Deepa’s husband, Deepak Ramchandra Parab, is a cricket coach who assists Deepa in running the academy. “We have arranged for a comprehensive one-year training programme for each of the woman candidates who are then delegated to festivals, concerts or any other large event, all across Maharashtra. We have a fitness trainer, yoga enthusiast as well as a martial arts coach, aside from me and my husband, and together we provide different types of training to the women – ranging from body-building to self-defence,” she shares.
“All our personal savings go into the academy and for the women. I still live in a rented house,” Deepa reveals.

Ranragini Women Bouncers
A poster of Ranragini Academy

Most of the women at Ranragini are middle-aged, with no prior experience in this field. Many of them were housewives, overlooked and ill-treated often by their alcoholic husbands. Some used to work maids, with no dignified identity to their names. Some are widows and single mothers who had nowhere to go. Deepa decided to take up these helpless women under her onus and turn them into spirited fighters. She deliberately refrained from recruiting younger women in their 20s as she believes they should continue their education and exercise their potential in white-collared jobs.

“Madam is always there for us”

“My ladies have become exceedingly expert in managing events. Today, they can give a tough competition to the male bouncers. Also, women bouncers are preferred these days since women and children feel safer with them,” a proud Deepa shares.

Her students are all praises for their beloved Madam. “Madam is always there for us. Any little glitch we face at any event, she will sort it out in an instant,” Shweta and Bhagyashree resonate together, their voices brimming with admiration for Deepa.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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