Exactly a month ago, BlogAdda had started a noble initiative Blog To Feed A Child in association with Akshaya Patra, in which bloggers had to blog about how to eliminate classroom hunger and ensure every child in India gets a decent meal as well as education. The wonderful aspect of this initiative is that each blog post would sponsor a meal for a child for an entire year. Honestly speaking, I was not interested to write anything on the theme in the first place as I thought what difference would my post make, when so many children still remain malnourished, impoverished and illiterate despite the continuous efforts of different organizations. 3 weeks have passed since my good blogger friend Dr. Ryan Fernandes had nominated me to write a blog post on this topic (Read his post: Food For Thought). I feel so irresponsible and slightly ashamed that it took me this long to contribute to this cause. But, better late than never, as they say.
So what suddenly inspired me to delve into this theme and pen my thoughts? Or should I say, who inspired me? The answer is Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi. When I keenly listened to his moving speech at the Nobel award ceremony at Oslo, Norway about his fight against child labour and work for child rights, I felt proud of him and his dedicated efforts. When he asked the audience to put their hands over their hearts, close their eyes and feel the child inside them, I reciprocated too. What happened in the next few seconds jolted me from inside! Images of children working at a road-side restaurant, wiping tables and cleaning dishes, flashed in my mind.
I felt numb and my eyes got teary. I questioned myself as I opened my eyes: Do you still think you can not make any difference to this initiative when you’re getting a wonderful opportunity to volunteer for a noble cause?
Before I began writing, I googled about Akshaya Patra Foundation (since I had limited knowledge about it) and read about the NGO’s generous work in feeding millions of school children across India. It has a very thoughtful vision that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”. Rewinding to my school days, I remember how our stomachs used to make all those funny sounds as the tiffin break approached and we could hardly concentrate on the teacher or the lesson taught. All my classmates used to eagerly look forward to the tiffin break and grew impatient as minutes ticked by for the recess bell to ring. It is hence obvious that school children have a strong attachment to their tiffins and the NGO is doing their bit to provide a proper tiffin to school children who often do not get a decent meal at their homes.
After reading about the NGO, I wondered what else could be done to remove classroom hunger. The NGO is already doing such a good work; what is required now that its efforts be widespread to every nook and corner of the country. In this regard, state governments and district authorities as well as local NGOs of every state can coordinate their efforts with Akshaya Patra Foundation and ensure food availability and distribution to all school children. Sometimes, cases of food poisoning emerges in mid-day meal schemes and a big question about the safety of school children arises. What needs to be done is quality inspection and safety test of the meals served in accordance with the guidelines established by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Another important point I would like to make here is the importance of hygiene. School children must be taught to wash their hands and mouth properly after meals and practice hygiene. That will ensure their overall good health.
Now several questions bombard my mind.
Why only school children? Why not all the street children who beg on the pavements and sleep hungry most of the time? Why not all the little kids who rummage the municipality dustbins with hopes of finding food? Why not all the poor children who wander around lavish weddings and parties to pounce on the leftovers thrown by the guests? Why not the children who work in hotels, restaurants and roadside dhabas who are exploited and often denied a good meal by their employers? Do these children not deserve to be fed and educated like the school children? Can we care for them too?
Think about it.
Do watch Akshaya Patra’s heart-touching video ‘The Possibilities’ featuring A. R. Rahman and Rayhanah‘s ‘Naan Yen’. :