By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, May 10 (IANS) In an unique initiative, a Canadian and a Spanish student, both of Chinese origin, on Saturday cycled 100 kms in Singapore to raise funds for migrants 4,000 kms away in Mumbai’s Govandi suburb, an associate said here on Sunday.
The fund-raiser by Canadian Daren Xiao, 30 and Spanish national Ke Xu Zhou, 29 – helped collect nearly (Singaporean) $1,700 at last count at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Both the students at the INSEAD Business School in Singapore hope to achieve their target of $7,000 by May 15.
“Daren and Zhou completed the gruelling 100 kms cyclothon in Singapore to mark her (Daren’s) birthday yesterday, May 9. They will continue to raise funds online (http://gf.me/u/xz3xva) for seven days,” Feeding From Far (FFF) initiative co-founder Paritosh Pant, 28, told IANS in Mumbai.
In early April at the height of lockdown, FFF started as a small community kitchen project in Baiganwadi slum area of Govandi.
In the past nearly six weeks since launch, it has dished out more than 400,000 meals to hungry and jobless migrants during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
“The proposal was broached quite casually along with my friend and Adv. Pooja Reddy and we co-founded the FFF. People started helping us out and in the initial few days we got generous support from the legal fraternity of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, in the form of large individual donations to enable us kick-start the service,” said Pant, a graduate of the country’s premier catering institute, IHM Mumbai.
What was launched informally, has now turned into a serious care-giver for thousands of migrants trapped in the lockdown, as the FFF has collected funds of nearly Rs 1 crore from various quarters and it is comfortably placed to feed the migrants for the entire lockdown, he said.
“Presently, we are serving around 14,000 meals daily – 7,000 lunches and 7,000 suppers to daily wage earners who have lost their livelihoods – through a team of volunteers in the area. We are taking full precautions and adhere to all Covid-19 protocols for this,” Pant said.
The FFF community kitchen has come up in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s Al Mahdi School in Bainganwadi, Govandi.
As word of FFF’s work spread, several celebs like Vishal Dadlani, Abish Mathew, Monica Dogra, Tanmay Bhat, Saba Azad, Rega Jha, Harish Iyer and others also chipped in for the cause of the migrants.
At one point, the Rotary Club of Bombay Powai also decided to associate with the humanitarian project and helped collect around Rs 50 lakh for the initiative, besides offers from others to join the initiative.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])