Ration Square- The Beginning
Updated: May 29, 2020
I vividly remember the day I was having a fit, it was my friend's birthday and I was unable to go meet her. My parents had refused to drop me to her house as they had to head to work. I had an outburst about how Covid 19 has destroyed all our lives, making it exhausting and intolerable.
The same evening, as I walked into my living room , I saw the news of a 23 year old man who had died in a shelter home after having walked for 500 miles. That day, all the news channels were filled with similar incidents of people dying after being forced to walk for miles without food and water. I felt horrible and compelled to look beyond my frivolous needs and demands.
I started reading online about the condition of migrant laborers and what I could do to help. After some contemplation I decided to reach out to the parents of my school, Greenwood High, with the help of my Principal. I requested them to pledge ration kits of INR 500 each which contained 10 kgs of ration. Within two days, I was surprised and pleased to receive overwhelming pledges for 300 kits translating into INR 150,000. I realized then, that most people wanted to help and contribute to such causes, but were unaware of credible and reliable sources .
I negotiated with my local grocery store owner for a good mix of ration for INR 500. He not only managed to source the quantity mix within my budget, but also offered me his godown for packing and storing. Finally, with tens of hours of packing these kits, they were loaded onto a truck for dispatch. I partnered with Good Neighbours India who help me identify needy families.
On reaching the location, which was a slum of 300 people located in a tiny area in Whitefield, Bangalore, I saw huts of mud, with the roofs made of wood, hay, plastic, and any waste material that was available to them. There were 10-15 people cramped up in a single room devoid of any sunlight or ventilation. The lanes had stagnant sewage water, and social distancing and hygiene were clearly non-existent there.
We unloaded the grocery kits and requested all the families to maintain discipline, stand in queues while following social distancing protocol, and to cover their mouths with cloth.
We distributed 150 kits in that area. The last kit was to this child of 6 or 7 years, who was struggling to hold the 10 kgs bag. He looked up to me and whispered 'Thank you'.
I came home realizing just how privileged we are and also the responsibility that comes along with it. It has taught me to respect and value money and to understand the difference between necessity and need. I knew I couldn't stop here, I had to mobilize friends and communities to continue making efforts to better lives of lesser privileged.
Thus, Ration Square was born with the simple thought of giving back to society in a way that touches and benefits the lives of those in need.