By: Anya Motwani and contributions by Simone Hein
We have all been overcome by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, though it is the most vulnerable that have been the most devastated. Those at Apne Aap and adjacent NGOs recognized this suffering and, in likely fashion, took it upon themselves to help.
This #1MillionMeals exhibition is the first within Apne Aap’s Virtual Feminist Museum of Grassroots Action and once again a showcase using art and creativity to illuminate their inspiring work. Here they provide a clear snapshot into understanding their on-the-ground work and that of like-minded activists over the past year and a half.
Apne Aap’s covid relief project started with a WhatsApp message from a 13-year-old girl sent to founder Ruchira Gupta. This instance ballooned into the extensive effort that is #1MillionMeals. However, by now, that number far surpassed its goal, capping at around 12 million. The people and groups like theirs, stepping into this breach, this breaking down of political and social systems, truly exemplify the good being generated from simply asking yourself, What can I do with the resources at my disposal?
This unique approach to relief work, taken on by Apne Aap and collaborators, can be understood through the intricacies of the Human Chain. We identify the Human Chain as the inextricable link between all human beings. Theirs consisted of links beginning from Apne Aap’s leadership and leading down onto various celebrities and donors, together with factory owners, truck drivers, warehouse owners, shopkeepers, non-profits, student volunteers, community mobilizers, and finally, their beneficiaries.
It is through this awe-inspiring process that a text message pleading for food could lead to the dispersal of millions of meals and uplifting countless lives.
Although, this would all be impossible without the dedication and collaboration spanning from Upstate New York to Massachusetts to Germany, France, Italy, Nigeria, and the UK. Those whose work ranges from food distribution to counseling and creative arts projects, not to mention government recommendations. As incredible as this work is, sustainable government action is indispensable for empowering individuals long term.
All of us: team members at Apne Aap, volunteers, and interns, alike could not be prouder of the incredible work and commitment everyone has put in for the most marginalized during this time.
On July 29, world day against human trafficking, the preview launch of this exhibition takes place — with opening remarks from founder Ruchira Gupta, an incredibly profound conversation between her and Gloria Steinem, and a vital message from human rights activist Shandra Woworuntu.
Following this is the official launch and inauguration of the Museum on July 30. Join us to see the keynote from activist and founder of The Love Storm; we will hear from the voices of trafficking survivors, remarks from UN delegates, and more. This event brings together victims, survivors, fighters, and changemakers in a culmination of their work to battle sex trafficking and exploitation in parallel with alleviating stuffing during the pandemic. They indeed are a remarkable panel.