Thursday June 20, 2024

Showing the true colours of patriotism, Robin Hoods feed the poor

Independence Day, chapters of the Robin Hood Army in Pakistan and India aim to feed 100,000 people collectively as part of the #Mission100k campaign

By Ebad Ahmed
August 15, 2015
Adjacent to an informal settlement called Bilal Colony, it was life as usual on Korangi Industrial Road, but the calmwas broken as all eyes turned to them. The Robin Hood Army (RHA) arrived chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” for the Mission100k - raising adrenaline rush to the impoverished children of the vicinity. The civil society of the clichéd “archrival neighbours” – a term used for explaining the relationship between Pakistan and India by rightwing analysts, politicians and cricket commentators - joined hands to challenge poverty. The “army” collects surplus food items fromposh restaurants of the city and distributes themamong the unprivileged section of the society. It is led by Sarah Afridi, an alumna of the London School of Economics. Speaking to The News, she said the ideawas an inspiration from her Delhi-based classmates Neel Ghose and Anand Sinha,who implemented it in India in June 2014. Ghose and Afridi aspire to bring the cause to Pakistan too and chose the day of the India- Pakistan World Cup match to start an RHA chapter in Karachi. The dream materialised and the mission was successful. The six-member-RHA has now gathered a good number of volunteers with 33 food distribution centres,which have fedmore than 9,000 children. When asked about the volunteers involved in the cause, Sarfaraz Abid, a member of the core team of the RHA, said they were mostly students and young professionals. “Oh bhai, lekin hum burger bachay nahi hain [But we aren’t ‘burger kids’],” he hastened to add.. The claim however can be challenged, with a subjective interpretation of “burger bachay”. Sana Rizwani, a volunteer, who recently shifted to Pakistan after a long stay abroad, said she had joined the RHA five months ago. She considers the project “beautiful”. Referring to the recent demolishing of a slum in Islamabad, she said contrary to the perception, the residents of informal settlementswere as Pakistani as the rest of the country. She added that the project was aimed at circulating wealth and food at no extra cost. “It’s amediumprovided to the society, to maintain a link with people from unprivileged backgrounds.” When asked about the adopted financial model of the RHA, the tone of Sarfaraz Abid hit an unusualmark, giving a clear indicator of the intensity of thematter, “Look, we don’t take a single penny ofmonetary donation from anyone,” he added, “Our volunteers through their personal connections build relations with the eateries for the project.” Ahmad, who is now in Pakistan after living a good number of years in the USA, said though neither did the RHA activity bolster theCVs of the volunteers, nor gained them monetary benefits, for him it was something beyond materialistic rewards. “It’s a matter of human connection,” he added. “I always say that doing something for others has its own high… you can only feel it.” In an email sent to The News, the RHA stated that that the Robin Hood Army’s Karachi chapter had managed to get 5,650 fed. The Lahore team entertained 100 people and the Islamabad chapter successfully hosted 65 in their first distribution today. So far the number for Pakistan towards the Mission100k has reached 5.815, “The Karachi Robins in all of their distributions since inception have now fed 15,450 people at 34 distribution centres”. While witnessing such noble cause, one can safely say that “Pakistan Zindabad” slogan sounds sweeter while feeding a hungry than in a frenzy state of mind on the streets.