Last weekend, as we were comfortably seated in our air-conditioned car enjoying our Ferraro Rochers, we had to stop by a signal. At the signal, we noticed that some kids wearing ragged clothes, looking starved for long, came running towards the car to sell coloring books, car cleaning clothes etc. We offered them some money, not wanting to buy the books. Very innocently, they threw the books inside our car from the window and went running to the next signal to continue their job. Every time, we pass this signal, this is a heart breaking experience we usually go through and we end up feeling sorry for those less fortunate kids.
Offering some money to them at the signal definitely does not solve their problem. We have only seen a sample of them, and so many of them suffering from poverty like this or worse than this.
Blogadda and Akshaya Patra came up with a fabulous initiative of “Blog to Feed a child”. For every blog entry Blogadda will feed one Akshaya Patra beneficiary for a whole year and how could I not do my part!! I started researching about this topic and I was taken aback by some of the statistics:
- India is home to a quarter of all undernourished people worldwide.
- India ranks 136th out of 186 countries in the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index and 94th out of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index.
(Source : here)
- 836 million Indians survive on less than Rs. 20 (less than half-a-dollar) a day.
- Over 20 crore Indians will sleep hungry every night.
and many more heart breaking facts……
Akshaya Patra’s emergence:
“A hungry belly has no ears”. It is unfortunate that in India, we still have many children who are struggling to have one time meal. Right to food is a human right and all human beings deserve to be served with adequate food, and especially the kids. Keeping this as a trigger, the first mid day meal program was started by Thiru K.Kamaraj, then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, first in Chennai and later extended it to all districts of Tamil Nadu way back in 1962-1963.
As per supreme court’s decision, in 2001, all government and government-assisted primary schools are to provide cooked mid-day meals, which not only eradicated hunger to some extent but also encouraged the kids to attend schools.
Akshaya Patra in partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments, and inestimable support from many businesses, philanthropic donors and well-wishers, is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.4 million children from 10,661 schools across 10 states in India.
Headquartered in Bangalore, India, Akshaya Patra was started by Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami when one fine day he saw a heart-breaking incident of a group of children fighting with stray dogs over scraps of food in 2000. Since its inception, the organization has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food on every single school day. More about them: www.akshayapatra.org
As every weekend approach,we as urban middle class group are exposed to swanky shopping malls, are on a google hunt to find out the best eateries and interested in exploring various cuisines across the globe. At the same time,out there is a set of population who is struggling to sleep with at least a full stomach with basic food.
“Little drops make an ocean”. If we all take an oath to contribute a little towards this noble cause, the hunger and malnutrition in kids who are struggling can be reduced to some extent.
Some things I personally vouch for:
- Teach children at home to show gratitude for having their share of food, and the importance of getting a full meal. Let them be aware of people who cannot afford for a full meal so that they do not waste food. Not only children, it applies to all of us as well. After all, charity begins at home.
- With no hard offense to anyone in specific, I totally don’t believe in the abhishekams done to the idols / movie stars. I understand that there is a certain sentiment behind it, but I am sure even that the supernatural power or the super star would be happy seeing you donating food to a lesser privileged person than pouring gallons of milk over them.
- Large corporates/ gated communities can initiate movements, like 5 rupee / 10 rupee movement. In the corporates where the strength exceeds more than 10K employees, if each employee contributes 10 rupees in a month, it amounts to 1 Lakh in a month, 12 lakhs in an year , 10 such corporates, 120 Lakhs in an year. I am sure that is a huge amount to be donated.
- In events like marriages, receptions, the amount of food wastage is so huge. At the least, if even the left over food is donated, it would make a great meal to the kids.
- Last but not the least, we can donate. Please look at Akshya Patra’s link here to know more about how we can contribute.
As I was writing this blog post, I had an apple, I gave chocolates to my son and offered coffee to my husband. Each time, only those pictures of the unfortunate kids and statistics flashed in my mind and I think I am motivated from the bottom of my heart to do my bit. Hope you all do it as well, sharing some of the heart-touching pictures:
Images source: Google