‘The Cover Project’ Started When A Small Girl Begged For His Umbrella, Today They Have Distributed 5000 Umbrellas To Homeless Children

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As much as it is cherished for its magical charm, monsoon in Mumbai is also quite notorious for the endless inconveniences it causes – ranging from flooded streets to an inevitable onset of infectious ailments. 

The situation is undoubtedly worse for the street-dwellers and slum residents, whose makeshift shanties and paltry belongings are often washed away in the torrential overpours. Their children, clad in drenched and tattered clothes, shiver while muttering prayers to make the rains stop. 

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

A Girl Begged Him For His Umbrella

27-year-old Vimal Cherangattu had a similar encounter. Two years ago, he was stuck in traffic during a heavy shower. Outside his car, it was pouring cats and dogs, but it failed to deter a young girl from selling roses in front of halted cars, like every other day. The girl, with her baby brother in her arms, approached Vimal urging him to buy roses, which he refused.

“Suddenly, she made an unusual request. She kind of begged me to give her my umbrella. As soon as I handed over my old umbrella to her, she ran to one side and called her friends. Immediately, four other kids popped up from here and there and rushed together under that one umbrella, with broad grins brightening up their faces as well as my day,” narrates Vimal.

A Single Facebook Post Started The Cover Project

The incident deeply moved Vimal who realised how an object as trivial as an umbrella can be a lifesaver for these homeless street children. Soon, he wrote a Facebook post, appealing to everyone to donate their old umbrellas to the street kids near them.

“The post got circulated like wildfire. It served as an eye-opener for many others like me. They all came together and prodded me with the idea of ‘The Cover Project’,” he shares.

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Initially, The Cover Project had started with a handful of volunteers, connected through a Facebook forum with the same name. They organised multiple drives in and around Mumbai, distributing pre-owned as well as brand new umbrellas to help street children withstand the rainy season.

 

Cover Project

Soon, the word about the project spread throughout the country and even beyond her borders. Non-residential Mumbaikars from all parts of the world started fundraising for the cover project, which resulted in the donation of around 2000 umbrellas to the children in 2018.

 

Welcoming Doctors On-Board For Free Health Check-Ups

“During our distribution drives, I noticed how a lot of infectious diseases affect these children in monsoon. When I shared my concern about this problem, around 15 medical students working with Switch India volunteered to collaborate with us. They now accompany us in every drive and do free health check-ups for these kids,” shares Vimal.

Cover Project

The group also organises hygiene awareness workshops for the kids to teach them how to keep themselves clean.

The Answer To All Criticism

“Umbrella? That’s not really something people need!”

“It’s useless to distribute umbrellas. They could have donated food or clothes or anything like that.”

“These poor people will take the umbrellas from you and sell it off elsewhere.”

Narrow-minded criticism about the Cover Project does persist among sceptics who consider umbrella distribution as a trivial initiative. But Vimal and his army of Good Samaritans believe that all the negative feedback fades away once they see unadulterated smiles on those innocent faces after receiving sprightly-coloured umbrellas.

Cover Project

10-year-old Mala used to assist her parents in their family trade of selling Mogra flowers. Vimal had asked her, “How do you go to school in the rains?”. To this, she nonchalantly replied, “Bhaag ke (by running).”

Her reply startled Vimal to the core. “I realised that if my simple act is allowing a girl to pursue her education smoothly, then it is indeed a success,” he expresses.

Replication In Bengaluru & Kolkata

This year, with the ongoing rains in Mumbai, Cover Project has distributed around 1700 umbrellas. They recently organised an umbrella painting workshop, through which a substantial amount of funds were raised to purchase more umbrellas.

“We are hoping to reach the 3000 mark soon in the count of umbrellas,” Vimal asserts.

Inspired by Cover Project Mumbai, similar initiatives have been replicated in Kolkata and Bengaluru where hundreds of umbrellas were distributed among homeless children.

If you wish to contribute your bit for this incredible endeavour, contact The Cover Project now.

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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

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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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