Pakistanis and Indians unite to feed the poor
The Robin Hood Army collects excess food and delivers it to those who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.
Karachi, Pakistan – Just as fans from India and Pakistan were gearing up for a cricket World Cup match last February, two friends from either side of the border were coming together to defeat the countries’ common enemy – hunger.
In 2014, Neel Ghose had launched an initiative to feed 150 homeless people in New Delhi. When he shared the idea with Sarah Afridi a few months later, the Pakistan chapter of Robin Hood Army (RHA) was born.
A third of the world’s annual food production for human consumption – 1.3bn tonnes – goes to waste, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization study. This could feed one in nine of the 7.3 billion people in the world who go to bed hungry each night.
In Pakistan, six out of 10 people suffer from food insecurity, meaning that 60 percent of the country’s population has limited access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Groups of youths in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad set out each Sunday to collect excess produce from food outlets with which they feed a few hundred households in Pakistan.
“We take this food to those who are not sure where their next meal is going to come from,” Anaam Afridi, a founding member of RHA Pakistan, told Al Jazeera while distributing food on a sweltering afternoon in a Hindu slum in the southern city of Karachi.
The Robin Hood Army’s slogan, “We might be on different teams but we are batting for the same side”, is aimed at bridging the India-Pakistan divide, explained Afridi, barely audible above the sound of children singing at the sight of cupcakes and pastries.
The Robin Hood Army is present in 23 cities across five countries – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia – with more than 3,000 Robins having served nearly 500,000 people.