It is often said that a lot can happen over coffee. Well, the Mumbai dabbawallahs seem to believe that this magic extends to tiffin boxes as well. The Happy Life Welfare Society and the Dabbawallah Foundation have joined hands to bring out a process which, with almost no extra efforts, can go a long way in bringing food to those who go to sleep on a hungry stomach. In a city where atleast nine thousand street children go hungry every day, every effort counts.
It was the Happy Life Welfare Society, the pioneer of initiatives such as “Spread some warmth” and “ Share your wealth” , which came up with this idea and then the Dabbawallah Foundation was brought on board. In the initial stages, a lot of volunteers went to different markets, corporate giants and shops around South Mumbai and encouraged the people to become a part of this process. It wouldn’t take much of their time, they were assured. All they had to do was put the ‘Share my dabba’ sticker on their tiffin boxes when they wanted to share their food.
The logistics, however were a tougher feat. In a city which is known for its breakneck pace of life, not many liked the idea of a delay in their routine. After some trial and error, the routine was meticulously set, so that the food wouldn’t be stale by the time it reached the kids and the dabbawallahs would not face a significant delay. Now, the volunteers meet the dabbawallahs when they assemble post lunch and the kids from nearby slums turn up there itself, so the whole process is complete within fifteen minutes. The road further, however isn’t without its obstacles. Every time this initiative in introduced in a new area, the whole process of convincing and planning has to be repeated.
The campaign has faced a lot of criticism, especially on different forms of social media. Many seem to think that it an attack on the dignity of the poor to let them have messy leftover food. But what is important to distinguish at this point is that not all tiffins are emptied for the kids. Only the food that people have willingly conceded to share is given to the ones who aren’t privileged with so much food that they can afford to waste it. And it is expected that the people who share have the courtesy to not send messy unclean food.
So, let’s not hide behind our computers in this age of social media and simply try to bring others down by trivial accusations. Let’s appreciate the people who are putting away their self-interest and trying to do something for others. And you might also want to consider doing your bit for the society. Cause you never know how long even a morsel of food would go in satisfying the hunger of a person who has slept on empty stomachs every other night.