A dabbawala’s story

  • A dabbawala’s story

Dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries, despite most of the delivery staff being illiterate. More than 175,000 to 200,000 lunch boxes get moved every day by an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas, all with nominal fee and with utmost punctuality.

Mr. Jayashing Phapale, aged 48, a senior member of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association (The Dabbawala), has been delivering tiffin boxes across Mumbai since the last 32 years and is also the treasurer of the Dabbawala Foundation and Mandal.

The Problem

He along with another 5,000 odd Dabbawalas deliver over 2 lakh tiffin boxes across Mumbai, daily. Though the job sounds straight forward, it entails rigorous detailing. Each tiffin box is given a unique identity number which helps them to identify the delivery point for the tiffin.

All was going well until a couple of years back when he started facing difficulty with his vision. He couldn’t read the unique numbers on the tiffin boxes properly which affected his work and time schedule of delivering the tiffins. It even became difficult for him to write the Mandal’s daily financial accounts.

Though Mr. Phapale was aware of the 'Seeing is Believing' mobile van activity, he could not find time to get himself checked, even though he knew that there was an issue with his vision. It’s then when he realized that there may be many more like him who would be ignoring such problems due to lack of time or money.

A positive change

Recently, on the occasion of the annual pooja ceremony of the Dabbawala foundation, Mr. Phapale took the lead in organizing a screening camp through the 'Seeing is Believing' programme for the Dabbawala’s and their family members. 51 persons (including Mr. Phapale) were found to have some or the other vision problem and were prescribed spectacles.

Mr. Phapale is happy to be able to see clearly again and is now an ambassador for eye health awareness in his community. He says “It is amazing, how a simple pair of spectacles solved my problem. Thanks to Seeing is Believing, I am now back at full efficiency.”