A unique ‘roti bank’ has been launched in this city, famous for its Ajanta-Ellora caves, for the poor. People can ‘deposit’ rotis and the poor, aged, sick or the unemployed people can ‘withdraw’ a basic fare of freshly-cooked rotis and a vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish.
Aurangabad (Maharashtra): The Roti Bank — first of its kind in Maharashtra, and second in India after a similar venture in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, was launched on December 5, by Yusuf Mukati, the founder of Haroon Mukati Islamic Centre (HMIC), on the busy Jinsi-Baijipura Road in the heart of the city.
“Over the years, I saw many poor people, especially Muslims, who can’t afford one square meal a day.. The situation is pathetic in large families with just one bread-winner. But because they live a dignified life, they do not resort to begging,” Mukati told IANS.
Targetting many such poor and deprived families, the idea of a ‘Roti Bank’ crystallized — and the 38-year-old Mukati made it clear that beggars would not be entertained here.
After discussing with his wife Kauser, and his four married sisters – Seema Shalimar, Mumtaz Memon, Shehnaz Sabani, Huma Pariyani — the ‘Roti Bank’ finally went ‘public’ with a modest 250 ‘depositors’ on December 5. People have to fill up a form for Roti Bank’s membership. “We allot them a specific code number. The request is simple — Simply deliver us minimum freshly cooked two rotis and a plate of vegetarian or non-vegetarian food that they prepare for family at home daily,” Mukati said. “The bank timings are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. People can voluntarily ‘deposit’ their food, once a day or even more… Similarly, the poor people can come any time to collect the food as per their convenience and availability,” Mukati said. The unique bank provides special carry bags with a code number to each ‘depositor’ on receipt. It is checked for freshness and quality, and then disbursed to the lucky families daily. ”
He emphasized that over one-third of the donors and beneficiaries are non-Muslims and want to increase their contribution gradually “since food is the right of all human beings, irrespective of religion or financial status”. “Since the launch, at least six Hindu wedding organizers sent us 50-60 plates of excellent vegetarian food and another dozen Muslim marriage organizers also sent a similar quantity of non-vegetarian fare,” he said. “We store it separately in huge freezers with a capacity for 700 packets. The beneficiaries can take the food of their choice (veg/non-veg),” said Mukati while appealing to big restaurants, deluxe hotels, corporate and industrial canteens, flight kitchens and mega-event organisers to contribute their unconsumed, extra food for the Roti Bank. He feels it will ensure there is “absolutely no wastage” of food anywhere any time in the city of 1.17 million population of which around 31 percent are Muslims.