Residents of Gujarat's Kapadvanj cook 300 hot, nutritious tiffins a month for pregnant and new mothers

Binita Parikh

Kapadvanj: For more than a year, the residents of Kapadvanj town in Gujarat have been sending home-cooked tiffins to expecting and new mothers as well as their attendants at the Tribhuvandas Foundation (TF) Hospital run by Amul. What started as an assistance for those travelling all the way to Kapadvanj for treatment, blossomed into a full-fledged programme where volunteers contribute to the mega task of delivering 300 hot tiffins a month every afternoon.

The 18-bed hospital in Kapadvanj town also caters to patients from nearby villages like Navagam, Sorna, Vadali and as far as Balasinor and Mehmedabad, which is 35 kilometres away. While the charity hospital isn't big enough to have a canteen, the food available at local eateries is considered unhygienic for pregnant women and new mothers.

Farhin Shaikh, 23, resident of Gaziavada society in Kapadvanj, with her newborn daughter. Farhin has been getting the tiffin for the last two days. 101 Reporters/ Binita Parikh

Farhin Shaikh, 23, resident of Gaziavada society in Kapadvanj, with her newborn daughter. Farhin has been getting the tiffin for the last two days. 101 Reporters/ Binita Parikh

The practice of delivering home-cooked food started when residents noticed how patients had nowhere to go for a healthy meal, says Jawaharlal Chandani, superintendent of the hospital. “Sometimes we had seen women or family members accompanying patients skipping the food. Getting food to them on time was a challenge for their families,” he says.

The volunteers of Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP) approached Harish Kundaliya, a consultant surgeon who is also on the board of directors of Tribhuvandas Foundation, to anchor the scheme. Along with Chandani, they assessed the scale of patients and the demand, and decided on getting 10 tiffins delivered a day.

The work for the project began with volunteers of BVP going to various areas in the town to explain the scheme to residents. The request was very simple. Prepare one extra tiffin once a month. “Our target was to get 300 volunteers from across the town, so one family would have to prepare just one tiffin a month,” says Vipul Patel, president of the outfit. Vipul Patel says they sat with  Kundaliya and decided to keep the food simple. “Roti-sabzi is not a drain on any volunteer’s pocket,” he added.

The mission is accomplished with almost zero cash outflow and work is divided such that it does not put a lot of burden on anyone volunteer. The only cost is the rickshaw fare and a salary to the person collecting the tiffins. Residents pack a portion from their regular home-cooked food—roti and sabzi—in the tiffin and send it over to the hospital. They don't know who gets to have it, nor do patients know who the contributors are. This ensures the act remains a kind of gupt daan (secret help) and the dignity of persons receiving it is fully maintained.

The main challenge was delivering the food on time. The Jivan Shilp Foundation, which bought 20 tiffin boxes and two racks for smooth logistics, also took care of the delivery. The tiffins are kept in a rack and collected the next day. KK Patel, a school principal and a member of BVP, was made the project coordinator. For around three months in the initial stages, Patel would call up volunteers to remind them that their tiffins were due. He would also ring them up to thank them after the tiffins were delivered. Slowly, over a period of three months, a structure emerged and the town was divided into 30 clusters of 10 volunteering families each. A cluster leader was appointed to look after who would make the tiffin in case of non-availability of a volunteer.

Each cluster now has a WhatsApp group. Volunteers are sent a reminder and empty tiffin boxes a day before for delivery. The clusters are divided in a way that all tiffins can be collected in around 15 to 20 minutes. Farhin Shaikh, a recent mother, says, “I have been getting the tiffin for the last two days. Usually, there are ten rotis in it, so I can share my food with someone.”

Harish Kundaliya, who was at the fulcrum of getting this project going, says, “The success of such schemes is in the last mile delivery. We ensured that the community takes ownership, and after the initial hand-holding, the program is now on auto mode and ready to be expanded to cover other hospitals and more patients.” The gynaecology hospital is a boon as it offers quality services at nominal prices.

“Comparatively speaking, a normal delivery costs Rs 600 at Tribhuvandas Foundation while private doctors may charge anywhere from Rs 5,000 onwards. With an OPD that receives around 100 patients every day, this hospital has slowly emerged as a destination for many,” Chandani said. With the inauguration of a 40-bed hospital happening soon, the tiffin team is ready to take on the challenge of increased patients, and a list of donors who wish to be a part of the effort is being compiled.

(Binita Parikh is an Ahmedabad-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters) 


Updated Date: Apr 16, 2018 19:41 PM

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