As children, we all dream of studying in top universities and working towards our goals of becoming well-known personalities in different fields. However, as we grow up, we realise that studying in top schools and colleges is expensive. Our parents arrange for the fees to ensure that we get the right education to support our dreams.
But have you thought about what would happen if your parents can’t arrange your school fees?
Many people want their children to achieve their dreams but cannot support them due to financial difficulties. People from the below poverty line, marginalized communities and low-income sections can hardly make their ends meet; getting an education for their child is out of the question. To help such families, the Government of India took upon addressing two major issues – education and hunger. The Supreme Court of India mandated the midday meal programme (called madhyaan bhojan yojana in Hindi) for primary and upper primary children. This scheme was designed to better the nutritional status of school-going children. Which meant that mid-day meals would act as an incentive to help children get educated.
As per the midday meal programme, every child will receive free lunch every school day. The nutritional guidelines for different age groups were given by the Supreme Court, where every child will receive a minimum of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein on each day of school for a minimum of 200 days.
To implement this programme on a large scale, many NGOs in India joined hands with the Central and State Governments. Some NGOs cater to primary students while others feed upper primary students and the rest serve high school students.
Service of Akshaya Patra – an NGO in India
The Akshaya Patra Foundation worked in tandem with the Government of India to implement the midday meal programme on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model. With firm support from the Government of India, the State Governments and associated organisations, this NGO in India began feeding school meals to 1,500 children in five schools of Bengaluru. Today, it has the distinction of being the world’s largest NGO run school lunch programme, serving freshly cooked nutritious mid-day meals to over 1.8 million children in 19,039 schools of 13 states & 1 union territory.
Out of these 1.8 million beneficiaries is one young boy from Odisha, named Sachin.
He is one beneficiary who has benefitted from Akshaya Patra’s wholesome meals. He was a frail-looking boy and underweight. He would always stay aloof in school while his friends and classmates enjoyed playing outdoor games like kabaddi, kho-kho, running race, etc. He did not have the energy to play; would huff and puff even after playing for five minutes and would have to rest to catch his breath.
Teachers remember the first week of his school when he would never concentrate in class, never participate in classroom activities and would often complain of unbearable stomach cramps which would eventually lead to being sent back home. After knowing about his daily activities, it was understood that he was malnourished and would come to school every day without eating anything.
Teachers spent more time with him, they took interest in what he eats and how much. After constant efforts from everyone in school, he is a healthy child today. He is an active participant in class and fares well in his academics too.
Care and concern of teachers, Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals and online donations from generous donors who ensured that he gets nutritious meals for one year every day, has made him what he is today. He is very optimistic about following his dreams of becoming a pilot.
Support for people who want to bring a change in the lives of children has kept Akshaya Patra going for 21 years now. As the NGO restarts implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme, many more children like Sachin look for a hope source, to achieve their dreams; dreams of studying in top universities and making a name for themselves. Let’s continue making a difference to dreams of a better life.