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Meet this Hyderabadi running 'Rice ATM' to feed hungry

Meet this Hyderabadi running 'Rice ATM' to feed hungry

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

Here is one hero from Hyderabad who is still continuing the work, providing succour to families still reeling under the impact of lockdown.

Ramu Dosapati's 'Rice ATM' works round-the-clock and anyone who has nothing for the next meal can reach his residence in L.B. Nagar to get a ration kit comprising rice and few other groceries.

For the last 170 days, this MBA graduate has been distributing ration kits among the needy every day. Men and women can be seen queuing up at a kirana shop in front of his apartment to collect rice.

A HR manager in a software firm, Dosapati has so far helped 15,000 families, spending about Rs 5 lakh from his own pocket. It is only for the last one month that inspired by his work, people have come forward to make some contribution.

"I advise them to start similar work in their respective areas. There is a lot to do in every area because there are people who cover 15-20 km distance to come to our ATM. Hyderabad has over one crore population and I want to see that no one sleeps hungry," Dosapati told IANS.

He recalled that he was inspired by a watchwoman who bought chicken worth Rs 2,000 during the lockdown for distribution among migrant labourers going hungry. "I thought when a watchwoman drawing a meagre salary of Rs 6,000 can do this to help those in distress, why a HR manager earning Rs 1.5 lakh per month should sit at home and bother only about his family."

He was quick to draw Rs 1.5 lakh from his account to start the work on April 13. Later, he also withdrew Rs 3.20 lakh from his Provident Fund account.

Dosapati started his 'Rice ATM' on April 13 and initially started distributing the kits among the migrant workers. He used to go around with ration kits and distribute them among families who were starving.

From migrant workers to domestic servants, people doing menial jobs, and from auto rickshaw, cab drivers to private school teachers, all have availed the services of 'Rice ATM'

Though named 'Rice ATM', it has been distributing kits comprising essential commodities like rice, edible oil, daal, chilli powder, turmeric, sugar and tea.

The kits are meant for three categories. For migrant and daily wage workers, Dosapati is providing a kit which will suffice for five days for a family of four. The idea, he says, is to make sure that after five days, they go out for work.

The 15-day kit is meant for people like private school teachers, workers in hotels, delivery boys, drivers and private employees not receiving salaries or having no work.

For poor families tested positive for Covid-19, he is giving one month kit, which costs Rs 3,500 each. These kits are also being given to women deserted by their husbands and having to take care of children with no source of income.

Some youth joined him as volunteers in helping him in packing the ration kits. Instead of using single-use plastic, Dosapati is using cloth bags for the packing. Each bag costs Rs 18 but the family receiving the kit can use the same for a couple of years.

According to him, 99 per cent of the beneficiaries till May end were migrant workers. In June, the 'Rice ATM' helped people doing menial work and running petty shops who were not earning anything.

"In July, our next target group was autorickshaw and cab drivers, delivery boys, workers in cinema theatres, beauty parlours, gyms etc. Last month, we had more private school teachers and cultural artistes coming to us," he said.

As some people like teachers feel embarrassed to stand in queues, he is ensuring the delivery through a nearby kirana shop or through volunteers.

"Every day, 150 to 170 people come to our ATM. 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 and later those 10 per cent also realise that what they are doing is not good."

Dosapati also recalled that some families, which received the help during lockdown, came back later to contribute rice as they were impressed by his work.

(Mohammad Shafeeq can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)

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