'Rice ATM' feeds needy

The Covid-19 lockdown in India saw many heroes emerging in different parts of the country who went all out to feed the hungry and help the needy.

Hyderabad man Ramu Dosapati is still providing succour to families who are reeling under the impact of the pandemic. His "Rice ATM" works round the clock. Anyone who needs a meal can go to his residence in L.B. Nagar to collect a ration kit comprising rice and groceries.

For the past six months, the MBA graduate has been distributing ration kits to the needy daily. Men and women can be seen queuing up in front of his residence to collect rice.

A human resources manager with a software firm, Mr Dosapati has helped about 15,000 families, spending some Rs5 lakh ($9,300) from his own pocket. Inspired by his work, some people in the city have made contributions. "I advise them to start similar work in their respective areas," he said.

"There is a lot to do in every area because there are people who travel 20km to come to my ATM.

"Hyderabad has over 10 million people and I want to see that no one sleeps hungry."

He was inspired by a female security guard who bought chicken worth Rs2,000 ($38) during the lockdown and distributed it among migrant labourers who were hungry.

"I thought when a security guard drawing a salary of Rs6,000 can do this to help those in distress, why should an HR manager earning Rs150,000 a month sit at home and bother only about his family," he said. He was quick to draw Rs1.5 lakh from his account to start feeding the needy. Later, he also withdrew Rs320,000 from his Provident Fund account.

Mr Dosapati started his "Rice ATM" on April 13 and initially distributed the food kits among migrant workers who were starving. He then extended his service to domestic maids, people doing menial jobs, auto rickshaw and cab drivers and schoolteachers.

Though named "Rice ATM", it has been distributing kits comprising essential commodities such as edible oil, dal, chilli powder, turmeric, sugar and tea. A family of four can use a kit for five days.

The idea, he said, is to make sure that after five days, they go out for work.

He also gives out 15-day kits to schoolteachers, workers in hotels, delivery boys, drivers and those not getting paid or out out work.

Poor families who have tested positive for Covid-19 are given a one-month kit worth Rs3,500.

The kits are also given to women with children and no source of income who have been deserted by their husbands. Some young people have joined him as volunteers to pack the kits.

As some people like teachers feel embarrassed to stand in queues, he is ensuring delivery to them through a nearby shop or through volunteers. "Every day 150 to 170 people come to our ATM," he said. "I know 10 per cent of them may not be really needy but I don't want 90 per cent to suffer because of them. No one returns empty-handed."

Mr Dosapati also said that some families who received his help during the lockdown returned to contribute rice and other essential items as they were impressed with his work.

Indo-Asian News Service

"Hyderabad has over 10 million people and I want to see that no one sleeps hungry."

- Mr Ramu Dosapati


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