THE distance didn’t matter. Only the emotions did. As many vulnerable sections of Mumbai suffered because of little access to food after the pandemic-induced lockdown, the fans of the Liverpool Football Club resolved to do their bit in fighting hunger and supporting the community kitchen initiative of Khaana Chahiye Foundation.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ has been Liverpool FC’s anthem for almost 60 years now. Its fans sing it before every kickoff at Anfield, the home of the Reds. In fact, they sing at times of joy or despair, triumph or tragedy. The lines, “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark,” bring many Liverpool fans to tears, and they resolve each time to stand together, no matter what the situation is.
The same is the case with the Official Liverpool Supporters Club (OLSC) in Mumbai. They may be thousands of miles away from Liverpool, but the OLSC Mumbai members are as passionate as those in England about their favourite club. They assemble, watch and support their beloved football team whenever it is playing in the English Premier League or anywhere else.
Fighting hunger together
And the spirit to stand together at times of difficulty was no different for OLSC Mumbai when India was walking through a storm of its own during the second wave of the pandemic. They decided to raise ₹3 lakh initially, and then increased the target to ₹1million to support the ‘Community Kitchen Project’ by The Khaana Chahiye Foundation, fighting hunger in the city.
Khaana Chahiye was formed in 2020 during the height of Covid-19 crisis. Its mission was simple–to fight hunger and meet the food demand of those in need in the city of Mumbai. As the Covid crisis ballooned, Khaana Chahiye was able to provide food, water, snacks, masks, sanitisers, and other essentials to migrants at major train stations, locals in Mumbai who had no access to food and others.
Within days of OLSC Mumbai announcing its decision to raise funds, The Anfield Wrap (TAW), the well-known Liverpool-supporter podcast group, along with club representatives Jane Phillipson and Sophie Coan, organised a walk in the Liverpool area to raise funds for Khaana Chahiye.
Several virtual ‘walkers joined TAW members’ from many OLSCs around the world. TAW also made a cash donation separately and presented a signed LFC shirt by Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher to OLSC Mumbai. For Liverpool fans, the OLSC Mumbai initiative was just an extension of what they have been doing for many years as part of the club’s ethos to support vulnerable communities.
Planning for the future
The funds may have been raised for the community kitchen project to help in fighting hunger during Covid-19, but it is done with long-term goals in mind. Khaana Chahiye will utilise the funds for buying cooking utensils and other essential kitchen equipment.
As the cooking equipment is rented for community kitchens run by the nonprofit, owning these will help save money, which can be invested in food. Most of the money is being used for feeding vulnerable populations like senior citizens, pregnant women and those with no facility to cook at home.
Khaana Chahiye, in collaboration with its local NGO partners, currently have two kitchens run by all-women self-help groups (known as bachat gats). It opened the first kitchen in Qureshi Nagar of the Kurla area and a second one in Govandi. Both kitchens serve thousands of meals each day. The plans are on to have a third kitchen so that more people can be served in its mission to fight hunger.
The fundraiser by OLSC has exceeded the target and is still going strong, with contributions still pouring in from Liverpool fan clubs in Leeds, Coventry, Portaferry, and other places. You, too, can contribute by visiting here and do your bit to fight hunger.
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Kumara has been a professional journalist for over 15 years with stints in The Telegraph and Reader’s Digest. He grew up hating maths and physics. He is a post-graduate in history. Kumara believes that cricket and Seinfeld have answers to most questions that life throws at you.