March 30, 2008
Byline: Vrushali Lad
Mumbai: Each of us has, at some point of time, experienced what it feels like to forgo a meal. This may be fuelling India's participation in a unique 'feed while you learn' internet-based game, through which our country is opening up its heart to feed unknown hungry souls in other countries.
The website www.freerice.com allows the user to play a word vocabulary game in which with every right answer, the user donates 20 grains of rice through the organisation to the end user. Hence, the more you play, the more you learn and hence, the more rice you end up generating for the benefit of a hungry stranger.
India is the fifth highest rice generator on this programme, after US, Canada, UK and Australia. 22 countries have officially subscribed to the programme, and India is not one of them. Thus, India is the only non-participating country on the Top 5 list.
Add to that the fact that India's growing internet connectivity is helping such an endeavour in catching on very quickly.
"The response from India has been great. It is our fifth most popular country and it is contributing about two million grains of rice per day," said Martin Penner, Public Information Officer, World Food Programme of the UN, via email from Italy.
Freerice.com gives users the option of setting the difficulty level of the game and to listen to how the word is pronounced. "Hence, you feed your mind by learning new words in the English language, and while you learn, you end up feeding a hungry person somewhere. It's that simple," Penner told The Herald.
This is how the game works: the user can set the difficulty level and choose to hear how the word is pronounced. You will be given a word and multiple choices of which only one is the meaning of the given word. Every correct answer results in 20 grains of rice being added to your total. The rice grains are totalled once you stop playing and are paid for by advertisers.
The UN's World Food Programme volunteers then distribute the rice to the end users in four countries currently – Nepal, Uganda, Bangladesh and Cambodia.
The freerice.com website works on a no-profit basis and is linked with the UN's Food Programme since October 2007. "We get about five to 10 million page views a day, an average of about 7.5 million. Daily visitors are in the 3,00,000 – 5,00,000 range," Penner said.
Get cracking on your vocab:
- Go to http://www.freerice.com
- Select the difficulty level by clicking on Options
- If you get a word wrong, you will be switched to an easier level
- If you get a word right, you will be switched to a harder level
- There are 55 levels in all. Players generally complete 48 levels
- A tracker on the site registers how much rice you have donated even if you abandon the game mid-way