Years back, I was travelling with my friends in Marudhar Express. At Agra, a young boy, aged around 12-14 years boarded the train selling some small soft toys. Out of some curiosity, we started talking to him, enquiring about his family, study and all. When we reached the question of schooling, he smiled and replied, “bhaiya khane ko to milta nhi, padhai kahan se karein?” (Don’t have sufficient to eat, who cares about study?). That answer and that very peculiar smile touched our heart.
Many seasons came and go after that incident. Now I have started earning, and started trying at least on my part to help the needy. But, the connection of food and education wasn’t that much clear to me, until I heard Sadhguru’s words, “What Nation we can envisaged in future, if our present is unable to get healthy food!” We, Indians, are Young with the median age of just 22. In few years, we’ll be younger than Chinese population. But, how will we produce a healthy and efficient population if we’ll not be able to provide healthy food to our children.
Mid Day Meal (MDM) program has been implemented in different states of India under different names and with different objectives too. National MDM program came in existence after 2001 when Supreme Court of India made it mandatory for all the state governments to provide cooked meals instead of dry rations in schools. A number of NGOs too are involved in this noble cause all over India. Different studies have shown that MDM Scheme has several benefits like:
1. Increased enrolment of children at the elementary level, especially girls,
2. Improved quality of education and also health of students, besides helping the families to tide ones the problems of hunger and malnutrition
3. Increased attendance in rural areas than urban areas
Studies have also shown that NGOs have performed better than Government run programs, without compromising with degradation in quality of education.
One of such MDM program is run by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, established by Swami Prabhupada, and endorsed and cared by philanthropists from all over World. The Foundation was established on day when Swami Prabhupada saw some children fighting with street dogs for waste food. Agitated, he took a promise that, “No one within a ten mile radius of our center should go hungry.” The inspiration led to Akshaya Patra with a vision “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”, which is now feeding 1,254,698 children every day and the numbers are still not exhaustive. (More…)
Akshayapatra (अक्षयपात्र) was a vessel provided to Yudhishthira by God Surya (Sun); with an inexhaustible vessel supply of food for the Pandavas while their exile in the forest (More…). Wish the Foundation be graced with such an inexhaustible pot!
I would like to thanks the Akshaya Patra Foundation and Indieblogger for providing this opportunity to Blog and Feed 50 Children. What an easy way to be a part of such a gracious cause! Isn’t it!
It would be great if every reader of this post can contribute to this noble act, by donating or even by just blogging about it….