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My Story: I Am A Zomato Delivery Guy Who Gives Cancelled Orders To Street Kids & Runs Free Evening School For Them

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“Four years ago, I was crossing the streets near Dumdum Cantonment in Kolkata when a dishevelled teenager boy came running and fell at my feet. He started begging desperately for money. I thought that he was heavily drug-addicted and wanted money to waste on cheap, harmful drugs. I tried to dissuade him, but his desperation was so wild and pathetic that I slapped him and he broke down. That’s where my story begins. And it has a delicious, fulfilling ending with happy bellies and unadulterated smiles.

To the rest of Kolkata, I am a food delivery guy with Zomato. But to a group of budding youngsters in Dumdum Cantonment and across Bengal, I am an elder brother they can always confide in.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

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The story dates back four years

Four years ago, after slapping the boy, I had comforted him, and he opened up to me. He vented that he was not drug-addicted but that his mother forces him to bring money by begging. He said if he goes home without any money at the end of the day, his mother will kill him. When the boy got down with dengue a while later, and the hospital asked for his personal details, his mother could not even properly remember his father’s name, who has deserted them probably before his birth.

This boy was not the only one with a similar life story. I found out numerous other homeless kids around the same railway station have a dark past and an even darker future ahead of them. None of them had ever stepped inside a school. The older ones were into drug abuse, begging and even petty criminal activities, while the younger ones would just play and laze around all day, soon to grow up and join their predecessors.

Soon, I started an evening school with 17 kids. Every evening, we would sit on a mat on platform number 3 and teach the basics to these kids. Today, the number of kids in our class has reached 27. Many of them have joined government schools.

My initiatives all over Bengal

Most of them have never known the love and care of a home, a family. Some are orphans, and some come from broken families with estranged fathers and mothers. I strongly advocate the importance of education to them. But, the reality is that they need money to run their families. So, I have arranged small stalls and ventures for some of these kids. They earn quite some amount by selling juice, lemonade, water bottles etc. after school hours. It is not much strenuous physical labour for them, and they enjoy it as well.

Over the course of four years, I have replicated my initiatives all over Bengal, in tribal villages like Belpahari or Totopara, which make headlines for the high poverty rates. I have been to rural Sunderbans among forest-dependent communities as well as Naxalbari, Alipurduar in North Bengal. Everywhere, my emphasis has always been on education. We organise drives twice or thrice a year to these places and help hundreds of helpless kids to get enrolled in schools. We also provide stationery, uniforms and medicine kits to them.

Distributing the cancelled orders and excess food among my kids

However, there is more to my story. Earlier, I used to work at Kolkata Municipal Corporation, but I quit my job to devote my entire time to the kids. But, I have to run my family as well, so last year around July, I started working as a delivery executive with Zomato. This is when I befriended a kind-hearted restaurant owner in Dumdum, who stepped into my team after learning about my kids. Now, some of the cancelled orders from Zomato and all the excess food from his restaurant come to my kids as their evening snacks, sometimes dinner. Addressed fondly by the kids as ‘Roll Kaku’ (Roll Uncle), he daily provides egg rolls, fried rice and all other items whose orders get cancelled. On occasions, he even arranges feasts for my kids. The gentleman wishes to stay away from the limelight, so he has made me swore to never mention his name or his restaurant to the public.

How other delivery guys and restaurant owners can feed a hungry India

Generally, when a customer cancels an order on a food delivery app, the restaurant which has already prepared the food gets the refund. Most of the times, the restaurant owners give away the food to the delivery guys. If the food is already en route, the Zomato customer care instructs the delivery men to take it home or give it to the poor.

Zomato has recently partnered with NGO Feeding India to divert all the cancelled orders to local shelter homes, orphanages, old age homes, centres for the specially-abled and similar institutions. We, the delivery boys are instructed to donate accordingly. For instance, in my area, we have been instructed to donate to St. Mary’s orphanage which we do.

I wish the endeavour continues on a larger scale and resonates all over India. So much food is wasted from restaurants every day, and not even 1% of it reaches these hungry kids. I appeal to all restaurant owners, food delivery guys and of course, the food delivery companies to take this into account and reach out to the helpless and hungry in their neighbourhood.”

– Pathikrit Saha, Zomato Delivery Executive

Recently, Pathikrit’s non-profit venture Help Foundation received its formal registration. Though he has always favoured such social work as a more informal and personal endeavour, he believes the registration will indeed help my kids receive more support and empathy. Any willing donors can reach out to him at 9804788406/9123348301.

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

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,99,319 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

Share

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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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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