The nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country has precipitated a severe crisis for the poor and homeless, migrants and daily wage workers. In an effort to help the needy, Anvi Mittal, a grade 12 student of Greenwood High International School, Bangalore conseptualised Ration Square — a student-led initiative that provides ration kits to migrant labourers during the current pandemic. Ration Square has raised around Rs 4.5 lakh for the cause and distributed 8,350 kg of ration in slums across eight locations in the city till date. The initiative, launched with the support of vice presidents Christina Paul and Riddhi Bansal, is an ongoing one with the organisation most recently distributing rations to migrants in and around the Whitefield neighbourhood of Bangalore. Anvi partnered with Good Neighbours India and Samridhdhi Trust, both NGOs, who helped her identify the needy families to whom the ration was supplied.
Commenting on the initiative, Anvi says, “I saw the news of a young boy who refused to leave the side of his dead friend, who had died after having walked for 500 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 school authorities. 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 kits. I realized then, that most people wanted to help and contribute to such causes, but were unaware of credible and reliable sources. That’s how Ration Square was born.”
Anvi negotiated with local grocery store owner for a good mix of ration for each kit. The store owner not only managed to source the quantity mix within her budget, but also offered her his godown for packing and storing. Then the kits were packed and loaded onto a truck for dispatch of the ration across multiple locations. Each kit contains pulses, rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, turmeric powder and chilly powder. The first location Anvi went to was a slum located in a tiny area in Whitefield where there were huts that had very little sunlight and ventilation and 10-15 people cramped up in a single room. The ration was distributed, and the last kit at the distribution centre was give to a child of 6 or 7 years, who was struggling to just hold the 10 kg bag.
“I came home realising 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,” added Anvi.
Since then, the Ration Square team has been successful in expanding the organisation’s activities, collaborating with students of various schools and communities all across Bangalore for the same. Membership of the organisation has grown from the initial three to fifteen members that include School Heads, Community Heads and volunteers from all across Bangalore.
Lauding the initiative of the Greenwood High students, Mom Banerjee, founder, Samridhdhi Trust said, “I applaud the Ration Square team who put their time and efforts to respond to this COVID crisis with a strong enterprising initiative.”
Commenting on the initiative launched by Anvi, Niru Agarwal, trustee, Greenwood High said, “We believe in inculcating values of benevolence and philanthropy among our students and Anvi has lived up to that vision. Greenwood High has always been compassionate about helping those in need and supports causes that help the under-privileged. I would appreciate it if more students come forward and emulate Anvi’s thoughts and actions. We believe only active collaboration between all the members of the society will helps us overcome the impact of this pandemic.”
Students interested in joining the team to start a chapter of the initiative in their school or community are encouraged to get in touch with Anvi at [email protected] or @rationsquare (Instagram). Anyone who would like to support the cause of Anvi and contribute may contact her at the same email ID or visit the website rationsquare.com.Posted in Campus, News