Just a few minutes remained for lunch break but Santosh could wait no longer. There are hardly any words to describe the eagerness in the 7th standard student’s eyes as he looked out of the window, waiting for his lesson to be over. As the clock struck noon, Santosh along with his friends, ran into the dining area, ready for piping hot food. It was their favorite Akshaya Patra’s rice and sambhar today.
Like thousands of children across India, Santosh works in the evening at a construction site for a mere pittance. Having lost his mother at a young age, he lives with his uncle, who also works as a mason at the same site. Because he lives with his guardians, he cannot say no when asked to go to work, but fortunately for him, his uncle and aunt do not force him. Santosh wants to become a police officer. He says -I will study whatever it may take to become one.-
Manjunath, his friend, also has a similar story to tell. His father, also a construction worker, puts constant pressure on him to go to work. But, the little boy’s aspiration to become an Engineer spurs him on to finish his education.
However, children like Santosh and Manjunath have many challenges to face their circumstances may force them to drop out of the education system long before they can hope to make their dreams come true. Nearly 13.5 million underprivileged children in India like Manjunath and Santosh are out of school and into child labour in order to earn a single meal in a day. What Akshaya Patra aims to do is give such children the boost they need to make the most of their lives. By providing freshly cooked mid-day meals to poor children, Akshaya Patra is helping them in the most effective way it is providing them with a healthy balanced meal, so they have the energy to pursue their dreams.
Akshaya Patra’s food for education school meal program addresses two major problems facing India’s poor children lack of food and lack of education. The mid-day meal provided by the Foundation on all school days acts not only nourishes them, but also acts as an incentive to bring them back to school.
We hope that with continued effort, children like Santosh and Manjunath, will not have to give up their dreams just to be able to earn a meal.
More Testimonials: Online Fundraiser Page: Akshaya Patra Blog: About Madhu Pandit: