Hyderabad: No one should stay hungry, said Ramu Dosapati, founder of the Rice ATM initiative, which is turning out to be a lifesaver for many in the city.
If you have seen a person carrying a bag of rice and groceries with a broad smile and a sense of gratitude in and around LB Nagar, chances are high that the person could be on his or her way back from Ramu’s rice ATM.
An MBA graduate working for a private firm, Ramu came up with the facility for those who do not have rice for their next meal, with the ATM giving them rice that will suffice for five days.
The Rice ATM is operational 24×7 and anyone in need can visit his residence to retrieve a ration kit which contains rice and a few other grocery items.
“I have kept required provisions and informed our nearby general store that if someone comes in my absence, they shouldn’t return empty-handed,” Ramu said.
It’s been more than 250 days of continuous service, with at least 25,000 families benefiting from the initiative. Ramu launched the ATM using his personal savings of Rs 1.5 lakh, which went up to Rs 5 lakh, including Rs 3 lakh from his provident fund.
So far, Ramu has spent nearly Rs 52 lakh for the initiative on his own and now many others have started contributing rice bags on special occasions such as their birthdays or anniversaries.
A native of Nalgonda district, this isn’t the first time Ramu has come forward to help people in need. From donating blood to participating in social media challenges such as the Tiffin box challenge and the ‘exchanging plastic with sapling’ initiative, he has been trying to make a difference.
There’s a bit of history as well on how he began the ATM. In 2006, he met with an accident and suffered a head injury. “I prayed and promised God that I would be of service to people if I was given a new lease of life,” Ramu said.
While his social service was limited to the weekends initially, an incident he saw during the Covid-19 situation became an eye-opener.
“A watchman’s family spent Rs 2,000 and bought food for a migrant worker’s family who had hardly anything to eat during the pandemic. If that family could do it, I thought why should I not do something for the needy,” Ramu said.
The Rice ATM has helped not only migrants but also those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic which includes many school teachers as well.
“I really felt pained when a teacher very reluctantly asked if she could take the rice and groceries. That’s when I got an idea on helping such teachers get a job in their field as online classes are going on,” said Ramu, who then started a job mela and is now helping teachers earn a decent amount by taking online tuitions.
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