THE HUNGER WARRIORS – FIGHTING THE PANDEMIC, ONE BOX AT A TIME!
What are the consequences of a virus affecting the whole world and putting it in a state of pandemonium?
Thousands of years of evolution later, the most basic of human necessities remains food. Life can get arduous for people who rely on daily wages with no source of income to fend for them and their families. Mighty efforts have been put into helping the lesser privileged sail through the tough times of the lockdown. An immense number of volunteers have stepped up to extend their helping hands, and pull humanity out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation working in association with the government of India, have been significant with their work to instill hope in the hopeless.
I had a great opportunity to witness and document the whole process, first hand, at one of The Akshay Patra Foundation’s facilities. The day starts with all the volunteers and staff getting checked for their temperature. Masks and caps are provided to everybody who enters the facility. With my checks done, I was handed a cup of piping hot Kashaya (our very own, desi immunity booster); a very thoughtful gesture.
I entered the Tripura Vasini Palace Grounds, where Akshaya Patra carries out all their relief works; the facility was organized like clockwork. The volunteers were assigned specific responsibilities to be carried out throughout the day. The whole process starting from packing, refilling, sealing, quality check until the time of delivery goes on without skipping a beat. It was like a colony of ants on mission!
It was a commendable act of unity where different classes of society united for one cause of working together for the needy. Employees at Akshaya Patra, joined by Police officials, individual volunteers and daily-wage workers themselves.
Here is the story of the Hunger warriors working behind the scenes, persistently, to ensure that no one is left behind.
Photographs and story: Bhaskar Iyer
The first step towards following the health guidelines, all volunteers and staff are checked for their temperature.
Suiting up during these tough times is a great necessity. ‘Save yourself and help others be safe’ is the new policy that everyone follows here.
Labelling the relief kits, one after another.
It is a humongous task to make 7000-8000 boxes a day!
Time to get these boxes filled.
The heavy lifters transporting raw materials for the packing of dry ration kits.
Thousands of kilos of Toor dal filled into individual packets by the Akshaya Patra team.
Sugar – from heaps to packets.
Parallely, rice and spices packed individually by volunteers working for the Civil Defence, Akshaya Patra and AIKYA teams.
Volunteers doing a quality check to ensure all items are included and the packaging is intact.
AIKYA volunteers pack the grocery kits with undying enthusiasm.
Get, Set, Go! The easiest way is to slide them on the tables.
And there goes another!
Focus on the job at hand, with utmost dedication!
No matter which section of the society they come from, they all carry the responsibility of steering humanity towards light.
That's going to be one truck load of grocery kits, dispatched.
Sanitisation is a must for hygienic delivery of dry grocery kits and well-being of volunteers.
It is lunch break - time to rest and recoup.
Reload and repeat. The process goes on untill the target of reaching out to all the people in need, is achieved.
Volunteers serving their fellow volunteers with hot water mixed with salt.
In spite of the heat playing against their energies, nobody really lets their spirits die.
Loading and unloading of raw materials all day long.
No matter how many thousands of relief materials are to be packed, line them all up.
We keep pushing ourselves because we know hungry souls are waiting.
No hard work goes in without breaking a sweat. Yet, they do it with a smile. You know why?
… Because, they are the Hunger Warriors! They help humanity sail through the tough times of Corona pandemic. The strength lies in their cause and in their numbers.
Together, we can move mountains; Corona is just a virus!
As on 24th April, The Akshaya Patra Foundation served 5 Crore ( 5,00,00,000 +) meals to the marginally lower sections of the society. The essential grocery kit comes as rescue to migrant workers, daily labourers and to the marginalized population. It can serve 2 people with 42 meals for 21 days.