August 14, 2021 6:48:33 pm
Robin Hood Army, a volunteer organisation, known for collecting and distributing surplus food, is on a mission to vaccinate 1.5 lakh underprivileged people by August 15.
The organisation has partnered with WhatsApp, Uber and Google to bring together volunteers for the drive, which also sees five million meals being distributed to the disadvantaged communities affected by the pandemic.
Called #Mission28states, the countrywide drive that was launched on August 1 is in its last phase. Delhi-based Neel Ghose, founder of Robin Hood Army, said their base of around 1,64,000 volunteers has been engaged in awareness campaigns to mobilise people to register for vaccination.
Since its inception in 2014, Robin Hood Army has been working on a hyperlocal model in which people and restaurants could let their volunteers know about surplus edible food. Volunteers then help distribute the surplus to communities within the locality.
“We have built goodwill and trust over the years with people from across communities, which has helped us reach out to them to register for vaccination,” said Ghose, who works at Google.
Many Indians do not have access to Internet facilities or even smartphones to register for the government’s vaccination programme. In the lead up to Independence Day, volunteers at Robin Hood Army are registering the disadvantaged individuals and their families for vaccination on CoWIN application.
Registered individuals can then go to camps set up in their communities by local municipalities or to hospitals to get immunised. Ghose said the vaccines have been supplied for free by the Reliance Foundation, in keeping with Robin Hood Army’s “zero funds” policy.
Hot meals, liquid meals, bakery items and rations are being provided by Google under the food distribution drive, which is catering to the homeless, transgender communities and rural populations, among others. Uber is providing transportation for volunteers to supply meals as well as mobilise people for vaccination. Ghose added that the meals are also a means to convince people to register for vaccination.
Robin Hood Army seeks volunteers round the year and people can join their programmes by registering on +91 8971966164, a chatbot, powered by WhatsApp.
“The pandemic has been devastating for lakhs of families. It widened inequalities across our communities. While the government and administrations are doing their best, it’s important that civic society steps up and contributes our talent and resources,” added Ghose.
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