Saturday, 22 November 2014

Food for thought

  • Image courtesy: Akshaya Patra Foundation

     One crisp Bangalore morning as I walked to school enthralled by the warm sunshine and the cool breeze, I was startled by a voice that called out “Vidya Akka!” from somewhere behind me. I turned to see one of my students, a 13 year old boy running towards me. Gasping for breath, he said he wanted to walk with me to school. Both of us were glad to have company during the 20 minute walk and so we talked. He asked me about my daily routine, family and so on. I answered him and asked him the same. He said he played after going home, bathed, did his homework, studied if he felt like and then slept.                                                                                                     
     I felt that he had missed out something. “What about dinner?” I asked candidly. It was only when he stared at me without an answer for two whole seconds did I realise my stupidity. I felt really bad but I couldn’t take back my words, instead chewed the inside of my cheek, trying to change the topic. It was too late. He said “I don’t have dinner Akka. The food we get from school is all that I eat.” I was speechless. Thankfully we had reached school by then. He waved and ran to play with his friends.                                                                                                                                     
    I felt so silly. I had taken for granted everything that life had given me- food, clothing, shelter, loving family and friends, education, career, health and so many other things. My thoughts were interrupted by the school bell to remind us of breakfast time. As the students lined up for a helping of chitranna (lemon rice) I felt so glad that the school provided breakfast, lunch and ragi malt in the evening. It made sure the kids were not hungry in the classroom and could be attentive in class without growling stomachs to distract them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
     Akshayapatra Foundation of ISKCON provides food to all the students of the school as part of its mid-day meal programme. Along with other factors, the mid-day meal initiative plays a crucial role in bringing many students to school, who would otherwise have landed up as child workers or would never have come to school. Thanks to various other benevolent people, breakfast and nutritious ragi malt are also given to all children from kindergarten to 10th standard. They are given boiled eggs twice a week. Many children like my 13 year old student don’t eat anything after going home. If government schools and NGOs provide basic nutrition to students, it will definitely attract them back to class, prevent drop outs to an extent and ensures that the child is energetic enough to absorb the knowledge he/she is being fed with. It also ensures that more girls are sent to school and not kept at home for domestic work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
    I hope I can fuel a child’s hunger for knowledge as a teacher and satiate his/her hunger for food as a blogger. I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.
  • (This is an initiative by BlogAdda which will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year for each blog that is written about this)
  • P.S- Don't wait to think. Be the change!