Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had a brilliant kickstart to their campaign at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 on Monday with a 10-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. This season is also a special one for the RCB brigade where they are paying tribute to COVID-19 warriors of India by embracing jerseys with “My COVID Heroes” written on them throughout the tournament. The two cricketers changed their Twitter profile pictures to them sporting jerseys ahead of their first match. While de Villiers’ jersey read Paritosh Pant, Kohli changed it to Simranjeet Singh. The two sportsmen also changed their Twitter display names to the respective COVID-19 warriors.
“I salute Paritosh,who started ‘Project Feeding from Far’ with Pooja & fed meals 2 needy during the lockdown. I wear his name on my back this season 2 appreciate their challenger spirit. Share your #MyCovidHeroes story with us (sic),” de Villiers tweeted.
I salute Paritosh,who started ‘Project Feeding from Far’ with Pooja & fed meals 2 needy during the lockdown. I wear his name on my back this season 2 appreciate their challenger spirit
— Paritosh Pant (@ABdeVilliers17) September 20, 2020
Who is Paritosh Pant?
29-year-old Mumbai-based restaurateur Pant put up a mega effort to feed thousands of daily wage-earners and their families living in Govandi, one of the city’s poorest quarters located close to the Deonar dumping ground. He has served food to 9 lakh people so far and aiming to double their effort in the face of the pandemic.
Speaking to The Bridge, in an exclusive interview, Pant said, “With my restaurant shut down due to the lockdown, I was making bread at home going live on Facebook and showing off whatever cooking skills I had. And while doing so, I realized that I am privileged enough to not just make the bread but have access to this whole thing. There are people out there who don’t have access to this basic staple diet. So that’s it. From there, I had a basic idea of the kitchen. I put a post on social media asking people how to make it work and people started responding and that’s how the idea of Feeding From Far was born.”
The colossal project which is about to complete six months started on March 27. “I met Mr Sajid Khan from Govandi, and he helped me to brainchild the entire project. We gathered volunteers and started working in Govandi, where the population density is even higher than Dharavi and has people have the lowest life expectancy, according to the BMC. Most of the people are daily wage earners in the area, so we knew they had the problem of gathering food for themselves. In no time 250 of us formed a team and our idea was to get the people of Govandi together to solve their own problem, empower them with resources, empower them with fund systems,” said Pant.
Pant’s team actively started a kitchen project. They had basic problems to solve like advocating the right hygiene standards – as no one was wearing masks, and no one knew what are the protocols to follow. There was a kitchen team that used to start cooking at seven o’clock in the morning. They were responsible to make lunch and dinner for 7,000 people every day. “We got together proximately 10 bakeries of Govandi to make close to 58,000 pavs every day. Our meals were inspired by the Indian thali system that is rich in nutrients. This campaign ran for 45 days and we served over 4.5 lakh meals to people,” adds Pant.
The community feeling rendered passionately among all the volunteers of the initiative and they felt proud by this project. However, the vast scale work became exhaustive and they had rehauled their model to sustain with their time, effort and expense. They then shifted to the distribution of dry ration. Pant says, “After 45 days, we shifted to a dry ration project, which is a weekly activity. Every time we pack the ration, we make sure it is enough for a family of five which can last for seven days. So we are distributing enough ration for seven days which are adequate for these families in Govandi.”
Their ration kit provides seven kg of rice, seven kg of wheat, channa dal, cooking oil, masalas and sugar – the requirement that was decided by the people of Govandi. A lot of celebrities have helped Pant to fundraise for the project and still continuing to do so.
RCB took notice of Pant’s effort during their campaign to celebrate COVID heroes. The jerseys which bear the names of these heroes will be auctioned and the money will be donated to Give India foundation. “It’s amazing and a bit overwhelming for me as well to see AB Devilliers is wearing my name in his jersey. I hope people will take notice of my campaign and help me to reach out to more underprivileged sections of society and fight this pandemic. I spoke to AB as well and he also lauded my effort,” concludes Pant.
The Feeding from Far project is running strong every single week and your help to Paritosh Pant can actually double the amount of reach in this noble cause. Be a COVID hero and initiate such projects to provide help in this pandemic.