I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were 4 cars in the parking lot, that was right next to the kids playing area in the park, right next to that was the open grove where we had planned our event. I couldn’t believe since it was 5:30am on a Saturday morning and wasn’t expecting anyone to be there that early. I got off the car quickly and I saw a few people walking towards the open grove.
I was a bit worried since this was an open grove and was available on a first come first serve basis.
Honestly, at 5:30am in the morning, I thought it would be a walk in the park, well it turns out there were more people talking the walk in the park. As I got closer, I realized it was Sowjanya, Sudheer and Srini carrying the posters, bags and other material for the event. I was relieved, however I did see some others on the other side of the grove. Turns out Sudheer and Sowjanya got in at the same time and so they struck a deal that the grove could be split into two halves with each one doing the event in their own half.
If Srini hadn’t woken us up at 5:10am and had we been 5 minutes late, it would have been a completely different situation.
We didn’t waste much time after that. 2 tents were put up in no time, the picnic tables were covered with green (since this was an event for farmers, Sudheer had gotten green) table cloths, posters were put up strategically and most importantly the registration booth was set up which marked as an entrance to our territory.
From a distance, one could tell, the whole arrangement gave everything a very formal and professional look.
Around 8:00am Manasa and Srikar called and Manasa came up with a great idea to offer Mehendi design on hands with a minimum donation of $5.
An hour later Sadhu and his friends showed up who did a great job helping with the rest of the arrangements.
We have been working towards this for the past couple of weeks and it was great to see things falling in place as per our plan.
The Cake and the special Curry that came with a recipe:
It was around 11:45am, when Manasa (one of the volunteers) brought in a home made cake. The cake was great, but the one look at it, got me worried since we had no ice chest. We made a few phone calls and got a pretty big ice chest but unfortunately it was not wide enough to hold the cake. It took a bit of luck and some effort to find the right sized ice chest but eventually got it. All the effort paid off since the audience liked the cake and voted it as one of the winners in the desert section.
One of the requirements for registering for the completion was to get the recipe printed along with the recipe. There were only a few people who actually sent the recipe but there was one participant who not only got the recipe but gave it a completely professional look. It had the list of all ingredients, the quantity that was used, how it was cooked and had a nice way to display this right next to the awesome special curry.
By 1:30pm we had 25 entires across all the 3 categories. Every single entry was numbered and placed within its category. The audience lined up and volunteers served them with just enough of each entry so they can taste it and vote for their favorite in their category. By 2:30pm, we were ready with the winners of the competition. For the record, everyone is a winner and we sincerely believe that, since it’s not easy to cook for 10 people or more and get it all ready for the competition on an early Saturday morning. And above all make the food tasty.
Mehendi design really resonated well with kids and later their parents. Manasa and Sowjanya really came up with some awesome designs and Chaitanya helped advertise this among the audience.
The Quiz and the culmination of Cook for a Cause :
The quiz, which was based on the colorful revolution of Indian agriculture, was supposed to be the ice breaker and it worked to perfection. Not only did the audience have fun but they also had the correct answers to almost all the questions.
In between these questions, we introduced the audience to the hardships of the farmers. For e.g. When asked the question on which state was the number one state in cotton production, the audience answers Maharashtra.
When asked to name the state which is leading in farmer suicide, the answer was Maharashtra.
It didn’t take long for the audience to relate the two and understand that one of the main reasons driving farmers to commit suicide was the shifting of agriculture practice to be cash crop based instead of food crop.
Many other topics were interjected into the quiz such as food grain storage issue, the money lenders, the access to loans or the lack of it. We also touched upon the solutions in how we through i4Farmers.org were helping out. Srikar, Srini and Suri had prepared poster boards showing these projects, so people could read them for greater details.
The event was a success, not just because of the number of people who turned up or who participated in the competition, but also the fact that we were able to convey the message that
“The journey of the little seed in the soil to the food on our plate is filled with extreme hardships and it’s only a miracle that there is still food on our plates. But to take all this for granted might be setting ourselves for a grave crisis with no point of return, if we don’t act now”
We thank TANA and all the food and prize sponsors for partnering with us to help make this event possible. This was our first endeavor/experiment to work with a Telugu organization and we hope we can make this more of a regular occurrence to help reach out to more people. We also look forward to working with TANA (again), NATS, ATA, NATA, TATA, TFAS, TENA, TDF (apologies for missing out on anyone else) and as an immediate first step, we could try to celebrate sankranti also as a celebration of farmers, if not being done already.
On a similar note, we would be more than willing to work other organizations representing other states.
Thanks to all
- the audience
- the participants
- Food sponsors
- And all the volunteers and also to all those who also helped with the clean up after the event.