On the 24th of March, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nationwide lockdown. This was the first slip up when this lockdown’s dreadful consequences upon the daily wages’ livelihood was overlooked. Not a month later, the gulf migrant workers began losing their jobs and were unable to pay remittances to their families back in India. Turned out, we didn’t even have an official track of them. This would be the second slip up. Over 1 crore workers walked back home as public transport continued to be held back, and some died on the way. This time would be the third.
The fourth, however, was the one that breaks my heart most of all. Subsequent to the lockdown, a considerable number of private schools engaged resources to shift their learning apparatus online. The children of our public school system weren’t as lucky. It was as if they were forgotten in the boroughs of a bigger battle, like tumbleweed in the Thar. This problem of the government schools not reopening extends beyond the complete and absolute shutting down of the education of underprivileged children – as the children additionally lost out on the regular nutrition they received at school through the Mid-Day Meal Programme.
Three reasons the Mid-Day Meal Programme is so important to these children:
- Is often the only wholesome meal they eat in a day, protecting them from malnutrition
- Keeps them enrolled in school
- Encourages parents to enroll their children as it eases their financial burden
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Programme. Before schools closed due to the pandemic, they fed 18 lakh or 1.8 million children every school day. The mission of the Foundation is: No child shall be deprived of education because of hunger.
“The Akshaya Patra Foundation operates 56 kitchens across 13 states & 1 Union territory in India, serving 19,500+ schools through their centralized and decentralized kitchens. Centralised kitchens are Mega kitchen units that have the capacity to typically cook up to 100,000 meals, and serve schools in the area through their network of distribution vehicles.” – Akshayapatra.org
Unfortunately, due to the lockdown, schools shut. But Akshaya Patra immediately used its network of kitchens and vehicles to start Food Relief Efforts. As schools continued to remain closed, in August 2020 they decided if the children could not come to school, they would go to the children. Hence, the Happiness Kit initiative was born.
Every Happiness Kit is packed to look to the nutrition, education and hygiene of a child. It contains dry rations, educational material and a hygiene kit that will sustain a child for a whole month, while ensuring they remain enrolled in school.
“Humein lagta hai padhai bahaut zaroori hai. Isseh insaan halaat badal jaata hai. Bass uskeh paas ek sapna hona chahiye.”
– Aditya Kashyap, Ulhas Khera, a student covered by the foundation
(Translation : “I feel education is vital. People can transform their education through this. All they need is a dream to follow.”)
Why am I telling you this? This is because the Foundation alone cannot reach all those children whose dreams are looking a lot like a burnt-out bonfire right now; where the fire has lost its spark, and only ashy smoke remains in the air. This is the time for ‘all hands on deck’. As able as Akshaya Patra is, they are still a not-for-profit. This means that they run on contributions from generous donors.
A small donation from you could make a huge difference in these kids’ lives. If that doesn’t interest you, your contribution also makes you eligible for a tax deduction under the Indian Income Tax Act (contributions of over 500).
One Happiness Kit costs INR 550 and INR 1,100 is enough to feed a child with hot, nutritious meals for 232 days under the Mid-Day Meal Programme. Imagine all things frivolous we have spent that little amount on. Now, it could be the light that shines in these children’s lives, and helps us collectively undo the damage of the four slip ups of justice in these dreadful times.
Please click here to donate now, or paste the link given below in your browser -https://nurturedreams.org/Kanika-Shokeen-2/