“Hunger, Not Corona will kill us,” says 20-year-old Anita who works as domestic help.
Sharing a similar experience, Sharmili Devi, a mason labourer says “I have started begging for food as a mother I can’t observe my hungry children clamouring for food and I have nothing to give them.” Food was not reaching such places. Experience of Anita and Sharmili were also validated by media houses.
Meals being served by Annamrita Foundation Volunteers in accordance with the guidelines issued by the management with help of the Police
“I am very afraid…” said Rakesh, a strongly built – daily wage Carpenter. Corona had broken his spirits finally after tenaciously fighting against hunger, poverty and loneliness.
Beneficiaries getting food with the distancing norms as instructed by authorities
There are many like Rakesh, Anita and Sharmili who would have succumbed to the pressure of going back to their hometown, had it not been the nutritious and food from ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (now Annamrita Foundation) in the National Capital Region. The lockdown has precipitated an unprecedented humanitarian crisis especially among the class of the skilled migrant workers and especially these daily workers. Due to non-availability of public transport, some are prepared to even walk 400-700 km, One of them remarked: “Let me die walking on the road (to reach my hometown) rather than without food in the promised-land(city)”. Their exodus to rural areas is inevitable and with them, the virus is slowly inundating Rural India. Yesterday only, many of these travellers commuting from other states tested positive upon reaching their hometown.
The Gurugram Centre of ISKCON Food Relief Foundation, a high tech kitchen in operation since 2011 for distributing 80,000 midday meals every day, was pressed into service for the Internal migrants’ meals. 56,000 meals are ready at sharp 10 am to be loaded in the District Administration and Municipal Corporation Vehicles. At the same time its Faridabad kitchen too churned out meals and till date, the total in NCR is more than 17,00,000 meals.
Says Vinay Pratap Singh, Municipal Commissioner, Gurugram, “ISKCON Food Relief Foundation has indeed been consistently cooking tasty, quality food and delivering to us. Their hallmark is punctuality.”
Some detractors, especially the media, regularly pass on negative comments, hurling abuses to the foundation, finding faults. They go to an extent calling them thieves etc even when they see such noble acts right in front of them.
However, the Juggernaut keeps on moving and these critics just keep on harassing these pure souls. In Faridabad, Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Yashpal Yadav, says “ISKCON Food Relief Foundation’s SIX vehicles are in service since the lockdown for delivering dry ration. Their meals too were well appreciated but we have a change in the policy of going into the Token system.”
Says Dhananjaya Krishna Das, Vice Chairman, “The challenge was to get the foundation’s cooks, operators, sorters etc to the premise. They were afraid of coming to work in the current scenario as a number of them live with older family members and it was a very difficult task to convince the mothers, wives and sisters to relieve them from the security of their homes. We convinced them citing obligation, national duty and high incentive but in our heart, we empathized their presence in the OUTBREAK of COVID-19.” Indeed one can observe the loving family feeling for his workforce. Says, Mr. Das, “It is to their credit that the foundation has fed 700 million midday meals in the four districts of Haryana i.e; Faridabad, Palwal, Gurugram and Kurukshetra since 2006.”
In furtherance of Red, Orange and Green zone as well as sealing imposed in the hotspots of NCR districts, there is a growing concern over community spread of Coronavirus The Spiritual Head, ISKCON Global, His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj the prime motivator behind this herculean endeavour of the Foundation states, “Meal satiates their hunger and at the same time, the blessed food gives these good souls peace of mind too. The need of the hour is love and compassion through the message of Bhagavad Gita which will bring everlasting peace to mankind.”