Sakhi Singhi and Shivantika Rungta with the children of Stars Welfare Society in Topsia. Picture by Arnab Mondal
One loves Farhan Akhtar and horse riding, the other is passionate about theatre. What binds best buddies Sakhi Singhi and Shivantika Rungta is their determination to make a difference to the less privileged.
The Class XII duo from Modern High School for Girls have been collecting excess food from restaurants and confectioners and taking it to underprivileged children a couple of times a week for the last two-and-a-half months.
The idea was born after Sakhi and Shivantika saw a family of pavement dwellers near Tollygunge picking at food from a gutter. “The image stayed in our minds,” Sakhi recalled. “We started Googling and realised that a huge amount of food is wasted across the world every day and millions of kids die of hunger every year,” Shivantika added.
The friends had started off with a request to Paris Cafe, owned by Sakhi’s elder sister Sneha, who readily agreed to help. “The chefs collected the extra cake crumbs and baked a cake that we took to a shelter for orphans in Topsia run by Stars Welfare Society,” Sakhi recounted.
The girls then started approaching other establishments and soon got The Park, Flurys, Kenilworth, Gokul and Arsalan on board.
For Sharad Dewan of The Park, the duo’s proposal came as a pleasant surprise. “My first reaction was: what motivates these kids? Children today are so full of socialising, so it was a pleasure to see these kids take time out for a social cause,” Dewan, area director, food production, said.
“We are stringent in planning our production and excess food is negligible. Certain items like breads and pastries have a shelf life of two-three days but are not fit to be on the counter after a day. We either process those or give to charity with the assurance that the food will be transported in proper temperature.”
Convincing the eateries to contribute wasn’t easy, but Sakhi and Shivantika wouldn’t give up. “There were so many refusals; nobody took us seriously. They thought we were kids with a childish goal,” Sakhi said.
Another challenge was to collect and transport the donated food in a proper condition.“The first time we went to collect food, we landed up at an eatery with just a tray. The chef scolded us and we realised that we needed crates,” Shivantika smiled.
Family and friends have lent their support to the girls. “My father lets us use his car and when we can’t go ourselves, his office peon collects the food and takes it to the orphanage,” Sakhi said.
A family friend has offered to finance a food van.
The children at Stars eagerly wait for their “didis” to come laden with everything from bread to biryani.
“They bring a lot of tasty food for us whenever they come. We play with them and love to show them our dancing skills,” said Charandeep Mondal, 10.
Yasmin Naomi Chung, who runs Stars, is delighted to have the duo from Modern High as patrons.
“It is heart-warming to see these young girls so eager to make a difference. The children are always excited to meet them,” she said.
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