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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Gifts from the Heart: Joy of Giving Week 2017

Joy of giving 2017

Giving. The word holds much power. It denotes overcoming a very human instinct – that of wanting to possess. This week, India celebrates the biggest philanthropic event – Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving Week 2017) – to encourage, recognise and applaud the spirit of generosity.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation would like to thank our generous donors for all the contributions they have made to us in the past and hope we continue to receive your support. While giving is often equated with cash or gifts, one need not always part with material wealth or possessions as an act of generosity and kindness. There are some gifts that hold enormous value and are touchingly personal in nature. Here are some of them:

Time
Time is valuable, irreplaceable commodity. Devote some time to people in need of your attentions, affections, advice or comfort. In a world that is rushing past quicker by the millisecond, with careers and aspirations taking the front seats when it comes to priorities, stopping by to give someone your time is a wonderful thing. Once gone, a moment is lost forever, so make the most of the chances you have today to make a gift of your time.

Patience
Patience is a virtue. It is precious because it isn’t intrinsic, but needs to be cultivated. One of the biggest reliefs is when someone is patient with your flaws and shortcomings. Making an active effort to be patient, with oneself and with others, is a gift that not only brings success in the long run, but also contentment and happiness to oneself and others.

Empathy
To judge another is easy. It takes little mind and heart to do that. To empathise, though, is entirely difficult. Putting oneself in the shoes of another, understanding their motivations and empathising with them, even though one doesn’t agree, is a courageous thing to do. Much hatred and bigotry in the world comes from lack of empathy, so this is one gift that could be the key to a kinder future.

Trust
The events that dominate public consciousness by means of news and information are largely negative in nature. In such times, trust doesn’t come easily. Being able to offer one’s trust to a fellow human being also means putting oneself in a vulnerable position. Those who take the risk and trust others, convey to people that they really care and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

Love
Iconic musical outfit, The Beatles, hit the right note when they sang, All You Need Is Love. The antidote to strife, violence, selfishness and despair most certainly is love. The biggest gift one can give to another is that of unconditional love. It leaps beyond the boundaries of time, distance, caste, creed, nationality, beliefs and religion and to create a magical experience for those giving, as well as those receiving it.

As India celebrates the spirit of philanthropy with Daan Utsav 2017, we wish you avail the joys of giving by donating the material resources at your disposal, along with your time, patience, empathy, trust and love and spread the light!

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This Raksha Bandhan, Meet The Brother And Sister Duo Who Want To Nab Criminals And Build Buildings

Raksha Bandhan

In a quiet lane of Nagpur’s Khamla area lies a small school by the name of Nishatai Wankhede Uchcha Prathamik Shala (Nishatai Wankhede Higher Primary School). Here, we met an adorable brother-sister duo – Aarti and Mohit Patle – studying in Std VII and Std VI respectively. The school knows them as siblings who can never be separated. That’s how we got to speak with them together and also got to experience the love they have for each other.

Mohit considers Daya from CID, a popular TV show, as his inspiration. The character has motivated him to join Crime Investigation Department as his career option after he grows up. “I want to become a CID (Crime Investigation Department) officer because I love the TV show CID. I like it when ACP Pradyuman says ‘Daya, darwaza todo!’ (Daya, break the door!).”

When asked to elaborate on his ambitions, he says, “I want to nab criminals. I like the way CID officers hold their guns and catch criminals. To be eligible to take up such a job, I need to study well and build my strength. I exercise and run every day to be fit and qualify for the same. He counts English, Hindi and Mathematics as his favourite subjects and kabaddi as his most liked sport. “I like reading in English. I communicate with my friends in Hindi. I like challenges and with Mathematics, I get to solve the sums. Therefore, I like the subject.” he adds.

Mohit’s 13-year-old sister Aarti, studying in Std VII, looked at him fondly as he speaks with us. When we asked her about her ambition, she says that she sees herself as a civil engineer in future.

“I want to design buildings. I enjoy drawing. I would need this skill to make designs of building so I am happy about it,” she said. Her favourite subjects, she said, are Mathematics and English. “I like reading stories of inspirational people in English,” she continued. Her favourite teacher is her English teacher, Miss Dandekar, because, “She encourages children to study well,” she says.

The siblings’ family is the one that encourages their educational pursuits. Their father is an electrician and mother works as a house help. They have three other siblings – a 24-year-old sister pursuing a polytechnic course; another 20-year-old sister studying Bachelors in Science (BSc); and an 18-year-old brother who works for the upcoming Nagpur Metro project, whilst studying for the entrance exam for Indian Railways. All the elder siblings encourage and motivate Mohit and Aarti to study well so that they attract good employment opportunities in future. Their brother helps them understand lessons at home and ensures that they finish their schoolwork.

Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals served at school are well-liked by Mohit and Aarti. Both confess to loving dal and rice. Aarti added, “I like the masale bhaat served on Saturdays too!”

We hope the duo continue finding much encouragement and support to pursue their dreams!

Support other children like Mohit and Aarti through our NGO. Donate Today.

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Father’s Day celebrates the caring and protective spirit of fathers

Happy Fathers Day

Father is an epitome of protection and care. Studies reveal that men are biologically programmed to care and provide. No wonder then, that our fathers show their love best by doing something for us. The third Sunday of every June honours fathers worldwide. Non-profit organisations around the world use the occasion to pay tribute to fathers on this day.

How did Father’s Day originate?

There are several interesting stories that are associated with the celebration of this day. In most countries, Father’s Day is observed on the third Sunday of June, but in Europe and Latin America, fathers are honoured on St Joseph’s Day, which is a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19. The Spanish and Portuguese brought the sentiment to Latin America.

A story goes that Sonora Dodd from Spokane, a city in the state of Washington in United States of America, was raised by her father – a single parent – along with five other siblings. When she heard a Mother’s Day sermon in 1910, she felt that fathers must be honoured too. So Dodd began a campaign for a day dedicated to celebrating fathers. The first such Father’s Day was finally celebrated in Spokane in 1910, followed by several towns and cities in America.

Another story is about one Grace Golden Clayton from Fairmont, West Virginia. There was a mine explosion in a nearby town that had killed more than 360 men. Grace argued that the children of these men needed a day or time to remember and pay tributes to their fathers and so, the day was celebrated in 1908.

Whatever the history, it’s a wonderful day that unites the world in honouring fathers. Apart from other bodies, non-profit organisations like Akshaya Patra channelise resources to honour fathers who encourage their children towards education. The organisation involves people on the occasion to help feed the children during its school lunch programme. Several donors come forward to sponsor a child or sponsor kitchen equipment every year as a gesture of honouring their fathers. Many of the Foundation’s employees are fathers, striving hard to give their children a good life and the organisation values their efforts.

What can you do on Father’s Day?

You can choose to be a child’s godfather on Father’s Day. All you need to do is sponsor a child and help Akshaya Patra feed millions of children by this single gesture. This may be through an online donation or a fundraising campaign.

Beneficiary schools organise events in their premises, encouraging children to write, draw or express feelings for their fathers in several other ways. You may find such a school near you in these states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh. You may choose to visit some of these schools and talk to children and teachers during lunch time and witness for yourself How Akshaya Patra’s meals benefit children.

Father’s Day this year can be channelised towards furthering the education of children through nutritious meals. You may easily do so by sponsoring a child.

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Akshaya Tritiya – The perfect time to gift a plentiful plate of food to children!

Happy Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya, signifying ’the day of gold‘, falls on between mid-April and mid-May on the third day of the lunar month’s bright half. It is the birthday of the goddess of food – Annapurna Devi. The festival holds great importance for the Hindu and Jain communities.

The word Akshaya stands for ‘unlimited’, while Tritiya means ‘third day’. There are a lot of legends that are associated with this occasion. One famous reference is found in The Mahabharata, when the Pandavas had to go into exile for 13 years in the forest. During this exile, quite a lot of Brahmanas followed them. But Yudishthir requested the Brahmanas to turn back, since he couldn’t provide them with food or protection in the forest. However, the Brahmanas refused to return and decided to fend for themselves. Grieved over his inability to provide them with food, Yudhisthir then cried out and meditated on Surya, singing hymns in his praise. Surya then appeared before Yudisthira and gave him Akshaya Patra – the vessel of unlimited food. The entire troupe then set out to Kamyaka forest, since they now had an unlimited supply of food.

Much like the Akshaya Patra in the Mahabharata, The Akshaya Patra Foundation too aims to be an unlimited source of food for the unfed children of India. Through our school lunch programme, run alongside the Government of India, we feed the children in Government and Government-aided schools across India.

Thus for us, Akshaya Tritiya is the most auspicious occasion to encourage more donors to donate for the cause of Food for Education and join hands in feeding the children of India. Donating on Akshaya Tritiya gives you an added blessing as your charity is going for a noble purpose that completely lives up to the spirit of this occasion. As a gesture of homage on the birthday of Annapurna Devi, you can choose to provide ‘anna’ to the children by feeding them with nutritious meals through Akshaya Patra’s school meal programme.

We wouldn’t be the ‘unlimited vessel’ for the purpose of feeding the children had it not been for generous donors around the world. You may choose to make use of the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya in order to reach out to the future of our nation – our children.

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Akshaya Patra’s takes considerable measures for water conservation and sustainable practices

Water-Conservation-WorldWaterDay

All life-force on the planet is sustained by that vital element of nature – water. Water scarcity and lack of potable water have become grave concerns, thanks primarily to exploding human population and climate change. The problem is even more severe in the summer season, as heat scorches the earth. The need to conserve, recycle and reuse water should sit at the top of the list of priorities of governments, organisations and individuals, if this life-sustaining force is to be available to one and all. At Akshaya Patra, we have numerous processes in place to ensure that the water we use is clean and that we use it efficiently.

Feeding over 1.6 million children across India is a formidable task and we ensure that we make the most economical use of water. The activities in our kitchens that make use of water are preprocessing foodgrains, vegetables and pulses; cooking, packing and distribution of food; cleaning of vessels and equipment; cleaning vehicles and cleaning and maintaining a hygienic environment inside the kitchen. The technologies we employ to ensure safe water are:

  • Chlorine dosing – For chlorination of water to purify it
  • Multi-grade filters – Where water is purified by passing it through numerous layers of filter media
  • Micron filers – Where water is filtered using screens that have microscopic holes in them
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems – They purify water by making use of a semipermeable membrane, employing the principle of reverse osmosis to remove molecules, ions and larger particles
  • Ultraviolet (UV) treatment – Where ultraviolet light is used to disinfect water and eliminate harm-causing waterborne microorganisms
  • Ion exchange water treatment for steam production – Which gets rid of undesirable ionic contaminants in water

Water consumption in our kitchens too is reduced with the help of vegetable washing machines, rice washers, steam cooking, high-pressure jets for equipment and vehicle cleaning, vessel cleaning machines and vessel cleaning showers with tanks.

We also conduct regular training and awareness programmes for our employees to create awareness about water management and conservation. Wastewater generated in our kitchens is recycled. This recycled water is reused for gardening. Our kitchens, besides using renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas, also harvest rainwater. Thus, ensure that we minimise wastage and usage of water in our kitchens and grow in a sustainable manner. We will continue making intensive efforts to conserve, recycle and reuse water in the future to ensure sustainable development.

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We, the People of India | Creating a Progressive Future

Republic_Day_AkshayaPatra

The power of the people manifested itself to win India freedom from an oppressive colonial power in 1947 and January 26, 1950, cemented its position in history as a republic. We, the people of India, are the ones who made this Republic; who continue to make this Republic.

Every revolution in the world started with We, the people. The will of the ordinary man fused with that of his/her fellow citizens to form a force. This force, against oppression, against the denial of basic rights, became a movement and permeated the collective conscience of the people. It instigated them to rise in revolt against the forces that kept them from their right to liberty, justice, equality and a decent life.

The preamble of the Constitution of India talks about ‘EQUALITY of status and of opportunity’. One of the important means to ensure this equality is by making education and its fruits available to the children of this great nation, who are brimming with potential. Making this a reality is full of challenges. A study conducted by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) jointly with Global Education Monitoring Report in 2016, found that 47 million children dropped out of school by Std X. It also revealed that India has the third highest number of out-of-primary school children at 2.9 million, who have never attended school. One of the biggest roadblocks to education in the country is poverty, the study found.

The statistics on school education in India may be worrying, but there is hope on the horizon. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme by the Government of India has helped the cause of education in the country widely. The mid-day meals provided in schools across the country have not only improved the health of children, but also resulted in a greater number of school enrolments. Akshaya Patra works in partnership with the Central and State governments of India to implement its Mid-Day Meal Programme, the largest of its kind in the world operated by an NGO.

With over 1.6 million beneficiaries in 11 Indian states, the Foundation’s ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ philosophy has fed the dreams of numerous children over the years. Its immediate mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020 every day, with a nutritious school lunch cooked in its ISO-certified, state-of-the-art kitchens.

Let your Republic Day celebration this year, be towards the fulfilment of the dreams of India’s young hearts and minds. Help the nation take a leap towards progress by contributing to a bright future lit with success and education.

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Give India’s children a happy New Year 2017!

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Adieu 2016, welcome 2017! The New Year is upon us – a time for new beginnings, forgetting past sorrows and imbibing the lessons learnt previously for a wiser tomorrow. It is also the time to count your blessings and be thankful for them. The dawn of New Year 2017 is a wonderful time to make a difference to the lives of India’s school children. Just as you have hopes and dreams for a brand new year, they too have New Year wishes. These primarily include wanting to study well, so that they fulfill their ambitions and secure their futures.

Akshaya Patra strives hard to end classroom hunger and feed the dreams of young school kids across the nation. It gives wings to the hopes of children with its unlimited food for education initiative, by means of a wholesome, nutritious school lunch every day. This is what helps in drawing them to school day after day, every year. Currently, The Foundation feeds over 1.6 million children, across 11 states in India, expanding its footprint in India every successive year. Its New Year resolution is to bring many more children under its wings and feed 5 million children by 2020.

The fight against classroom hunger is a collective one and it needs more soldiers to join it every year. If a future free from hunger and full of education can be envisioned, it can be achieved. Why not resolve this year to join the cause of ‘food for education’ and put your best foot forward to ensure that India’s school kids are adequately nourished? Donate now to the cause! We also would also like to know the New Year resolutions you have made to do your bit for a hunger-free India. Tell us the same in the ‘comments’ section below. You can also leave New Year wishes for our beneficiaries!

From everyone at The Akshaya Patra Foundation, we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2017!

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Photo Contest 2016 | Click a Smile and Share

rajughoshclickasmileakshayapatra

Akshaya Patra’s online photography contest 2016 is now open for all! Click a smile and participate!

Click-a-Smile is our annual photography competition that has been acknowledged by about 80 countries around the world! Created with love towards children, this photography contest is a platform for all you shutterbug lovers to exhibit your talent through a meaningful photograph.

All you have to do is capture a smile and submit the photograph before the deadline – December 23, 2016! The theme is Child’s Smile.

How does it work?
Just like every year, Click-a-Smile calls for entries from all walks of life. If you already have a photograph of a smiling child (or children), you can share it with us right away! If you do not have any, get adventurous and explore – step out of your abode and capture the smiles of children; it could be in a park, near a lake, a quiet street, school, or even a market! We are quite sure photographing children is absolutely fun.

Selection Process and Winners
Our panel consists of professional photographers who will review, shortlist and select. The top three winners will receive a trophy, certificate and a gift voucher. And the top 50 photographs will be showcased at Akshaya Patra’s annual photography exhibition with full credit to the photographer.

All photographs must be submitted here.

Here are few quick rules!

  • Image size should not exceed 4 MB and must have a minimum resolution of 800 pixels
  • Participants can submit up to three photographs
  • The photograph must be owned by the participant

For complete list of Click-a-Smile photo contest rules, click here.

Get inspired by winning photographs of Click-a-Smile 2015.

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What is your Thanksgiving giveaway this year?

thanksgiving1

The story goes like this. In 1620, a few pilgrims from Plymouth travelled in search of a place for resettlement. After they found a land, the Pilgrims began to settle down, but they had to survive a harsh winter. When spring arrived, they started farming with the help of a Native American, Squanto. Squanto taught the pilgrims how to cultivate corn, which proved successful in 1621. To celebrate this success, the pilgrims and the natives organised a feast which continues to be observed every year as a custom.

The arrival of Thanksgiving is always a delight; organising a get together with family and friends, offering a prayer of thanks and celebrating the feast. More than how Thanksgiving is celebrated, it is the significance of the festival which means a lot to all of us.

Harvesting (gathering of crops) is a global activity. Although Thanksgiving is celebrated majorly in the West, each country has its own harvest festival; Indian states celebrate harvest festivals during different times throughout the year.  Regardless of where we come from, we thank the Planet Earth for producing grains and pulses that are the sources of our survival. In India, almost half of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and the grains produced by a farmer feed thousands of people every day. A farmer to a businessman to a buyer, we are all encountering each other through one basic need – food.

Keeping this thothanksgivingbyakshayapatraught in mind, Akshaya Patra launched its Mid-Day Meal Programme, which currently feeds millions of children every day with ingredients that are grown on land. Over 1.6 million school children feast on rice and sambar (in South India); roti and sabzi (in North India) that are freshly prepared in centralised and decentralised kitchens. The Foundation also runs food safety labs that evaluate the food ingredients from farm to plate.

This year, let your Thanksgiving giveaway be something special for children. How about sponsoring a child’s meal for an entire year? Rs 950 is all it takes to feed a child for a year!

We urge you to share the blessings of Thanksgiving with Akshaya Patra beneficiaries. The organisation strives to guard children against hunger by providing mid-day meals in schools, thus encouraging them to attend school regularly. Our mission now is to reach 5 million children by 2020!

We wish you a happy and a meaningful Thanksgiving!

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Kannada Rajyotsava: What the Day is All About

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For everyone living in Karnataka, the first day of November is a holiday. This day, known as Kannada Rajyotsava, symbolises the birth of Karnataka. In other words, it was the day Karnataka was formed back in 1956. So, how did this occasion come to be?

Here’s a quick look at this historic day and what it is all about.

On November 1, 1956, all the Kannada-speaking states of southern India were amalgamated to form a new state. This entity was originally called Mysore, but the name was too reminiscent of the princely state of yore, which was why the name was changed to ‘Karnataka’ on November 1, 1973.

Kannada Rajyotsava is celebrated with much gusto across the state. The red and yellow colours of the Karnataka flag fill the streets and the flag is hoisted at important locations, while the state anthem, Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate composed by the great poet Kuvempu, is sung. The boundaries of religion, age, caste, gender and income blur, as the state unites to celebrate its formation. The occasion is a tribute to the state of Karnataka and celebrates its glory – from the notable progress it has made, to its ongoing development.

On this day, the State Government confers the Rajyotsava Award upon eminent citizens, who have adorned Karnataka with the jewels of their noteworthy achievements; Akshaya Patra’s Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, received Rajyotsava Award in the year 2003.

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation is delighted to have started its journey in this very state in Bengaluru, in the year 2000, by serving meals to children in five schools in the city. Currently, we provide nutritious mid-day meals to children in five cities across Karnataka – Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Mysuru and Ballari, via its six centralised kitchens.  In Karnataka alone, we feed 5,09,252 children in 2,841 Government and Government-aided schools every day.

On this wonderful occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, the Foundation thanks the state where it was born and expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Karnataka for all the support it has extended. It also thanks its numerous donors and corporates, who have generously contributed to its cause of unlimited food for education. Please continue your support by contributing to Akshaya Patra.

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