Mumbai

‘Circle of Love’ gathers steam in roti-for-migrants initiative

Snack pack: The theplas, wrapped in tight rolls in foil, are collected from all over the city and distributed at railway stations, bus depots and on highways.

Snack pack: The theplas, wrapped in tight rolls in foil, are collected from all over the city and distributed at railway stations, bus depots and on highways.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Informal group of volunteers who roused Mumbaikars into donating thepla rolls finds corporate support

Every night, when Reshma Jain and her small team, who call themselves the Circle of Love count their stash of roti rolls, they have cause to believe that Mumbaikars do care. With good reason; the rolls collected from all over the city are intended for the migrant workforce that is leaving the city in droves, driven by hunger and fear.

Ms. Jain, her partner Vinod Hemnani and a group of volunteers previously unknown to each other, have fuelled a call to action, largely through word of mouth and WhatsApp groups. “The idea is simple,” she said, “No one should have to go hungry,” she said.

The partners were distressed by the news that began unfolding on May 15, that Mumbai’s largely hungry and mostly unemployed workforce whose origins lay in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar wanted to flee the city. “Hunger doesn’t go away in one day,” said Ms. Jain.

That is how the idea took shape. Theplas, a Gujarati staple on picnics and holidays, were a logical choice, given they can last on a long journey. The word soon spread: three to four theplas (missi roti or masala rotis) tightly wrapped into a foil roll with some pickle would ensure a healthy bite for the travellers. By the end of day one, they had 600 volunteers, and 1,800 theplas to distribute to various groups at railway stations, bus depots and on highways that lead out of Maximum City.

‘Circle of Love’ gathers steam in roti-for-migrants initiative

There are now four WhatsApp groups across four zones of the city, which are part of this effort.

The idea of feeding the hungry who have made Mumbai, is now a burgeoning one. When Ms. Jain, a former editor of Marwar magazine, spoke to Sangita Jindal, chairperson of the JSW Foundation, about the roti project, there was an instant connect. “I realised that when one donates something made by one’s own hands, it means something else,” said Ms. Jindal.

She also decided to widen the scope and rope in the JSW group’s Mumbai employees, calling it Project Annapurna. From May 27 to 29, employees of the JSW Group have contributed theplas and rotis. “It’s a minuscule attempt, but every drop counts,” said Ms. Jindal, recalling her attempts at making theplas for the project.

The group’s employees across the city and from places like Thane, Vasind and Tarapur, have over three days donated 12,500 thepla rolls to the cause. “It has been so satisfying to see how quickly we had volunteers from within the group committing to ensure this activity was a success, from our Ladies Club members in townships contributing up to 1,000 theplas a day to employees based in Mumbai activating neighbours in their apartment complex to contribute to the process,” said Ms. Jindal.

‘Circle of Love’ gathers steam in roti-for-migrants initiative

What began as an informal initiative is taking shape in ways that Ms. Jain and Mr. Hemnani could not imagine. Ms. Jain credits her comrades in the effort, Vinodini and Sunil Lulla, and Anand Bhatia, with galvanising a large number of people in their neighbourhood and across the world, besides helping with the logistics of daily collection and storage. She also credits the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission with providing the backbone to the effort, without whom “we would not have been able to manage the impetus for the project or the distribution.”

The core group has identified ‘thepla makers’ across the city to chip in for those who would like to contribute, but cannot make theplas. “It’s been magical,” Ms. Jain said, recalling the generosity of Mumbaikars who have donated time as well as their cars, and opened their larders and hearts to help those in need.

To contribute to the Circle of Love’s efforts, WhatsApp 9136324859

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 12:41:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/circle-of-love-gathers-steam-in-roti-for-migrants-initiative/article31706274.ece

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