Thepla, a staple household Gujarati dish, has come to the rescue of migrant workers stuck in Mumbai. A city-based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care (SRLC) has launched it's one of a kind initiative The Circle of Love And Care, which has become a strong bridge between the city’s residents and migrants.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation has been actively involved in distributing ration and medicines to hospitals. As it has been working closely with the civic officials and the police department, an SOS was sent out to them by the Mumbai Police, seeking help for the 80 workers waiting at Dahisar checkpoint, who were hungry for two days. Witnessing the heart wrenching condition of the workers, the volunteers arranged to feed them by cooking theplas. This was the first time the volunteers fed the labourers. The organisation then decided to launch an initiative aiming to feed the stranded migrants in the pockets of the city.
In another instance, on May 17, a total of 25,000 theplas were cooked for migrant labourers within a span of five hours. These were then distributed among several migrant groups queued up at the entry and exit points of the city.
"Theplas are like rotis. They are nutritious and non-perishable at the same time. The labourers can easily pack them and carry them along. They can have them whenever they feel like. That's why I chose to distribute theplas mainly," said Minoli Gandhi, a volunteer. Apart from home cooked theplas, the organisation has also been providing dry food, buttermilk, fruit juices and packaged drinking water.
Within a period of 17 days, the NGO has distributed 20.75 lakh home cooked theplas among the workers. They have also supplied 2.75 lakh packets of biscuits and 1.22 lakh bottles of packaged drinking water to as many as 9.16 lakh migrant workers across the maximum city.
Amid this crisis, the NGO has also formed its own robust network of volunteers. Presently, there are more than 500 volunteers who are cooking food for the labourers in their kitchen. Volunteers are provided with sanitation and hygiene guidelines and are required to strictly adhere by it.
“It is the collective passion and commitment of every volunteer that makes our initiatives possible in such a short turnaround time. Our founder and spiritual mentor Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai tells us that there are 3 ingredients to service: the sincere intent to serve, the power of community spirit and divine help. And the Circle of Love and Care is undoubtedly driven by these factors,” said Atmarpit Nemiji, trustee, Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care.