Sponsor a Hungry Child this Anti-Child Labour Day

“If we want to develop our country we should first develop a bright future for children

Akshaya Patra Inititative2

Child Labour is an injustice done to the children depriving them of their basic right to learn, play and enjoy childhood. The children have to do menial jobs for meagre income for a longer duration without any complaint to satisfy their hunger.

Anti-Child Labour Day in India is observed every year on April 30 which falls a day before Labour Day. Unfortunately, India has the highest number of child labourers in the world. There are 11.29 million child labourers in India, which constitutes 1.34 per cent of the total population of the country. Though anti-child labour laws were amended by the Government through Child Labour Act 1986, which enforces a ban on employment of children under the age of 14, still children are victims of child abuse and exploitation.

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Though a child craves to go to school and enjoy studying and playing with friends, he can’t pursue his education due to lack of food and finance. When hunger dominates, he is ready to forgo school and prefer to work for a square meal. Hence the child ends up as labourer at the prime of his innocence; when he is supposed to enjoy childhood.

Akshaya Patra on realising the link between child labour and hunger serves mid-day meals to children in Government schools under the Government’s Mid-day Meal Scheme. The organisation implements the scheme to eliminate classroom hunger and bring children back to schools opening to them the gates of progress. Aiming to end hunger and promote education the organisation works tirelessly to serve nutritious food every day to feed the hungry children in India and promote education which eventually will free children from child labour.

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Akshaya Patra calls upon all of us, as responsible citizens, to help feed the hungry children by providing charity or sponsoring a child through the organisations mid-day meal scheme. Fifteen years of tireless efforts has increased the Foundation’s reach to 25 locations and providing food to 1.5 million children in India. This had led to increased enrolment in schools, sustained attendance and increased nutritious health of children.

Hunger-free education is the only solution to end child labour, school is the best place for a child to spend his life and pen is the best instrument to work with.  It’s our duty to ask a child to ‘learn’ and ‘not earn.’ Child labour is never a solution to end the social disease of poverty but it perpetuates poverty rather than irradiating poverty.

To give every child a life filled with colours, let us join hands with Akshaya Patra in its mid-day meal scheme to feed the hungry children on this Anti-Child Labour Day.

How Online Fundraising Campaign at Akshaya Patra Works

Fundraising is of immense importance for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as these organisations, despite the fact that they too contribute heavily towards the socioeconomic development of the country, are not at the liberty of using the tax-payer’s money … at least, not directly. Indirectly, the Government does give tax breaks or provides funds or subsidies, especially when it is also a stakeholder.

Food for Education

In order to implement the Mid-day Meal Programme in schools, for instance, the Government has got into a partnership with NGOs like The Akshaya Patra Foundation. In such cases, it shares the cost of the programme or provides land and other requisites. Even in such cases, NGOs have to develop fundraising strategies for both, sustenance and expansion.

Online Fundraising for Akshaya Patra

At Akshaya Patra, we understand that online fundraising has more to it than simply accepting donations online, hence we make a conscious attempt to reach out to as many people as possible through our campaigns using our website and different social media platforms. It also has something to do with the fact that for an NGO, a steady stream of funds is of great importance.

If you want to organise a fundraiser for us at your workplace or school, we’ll be glad to help. You just need to get in touch with us. What if someone wants to help by raising funds for the cause, but cannot due to time constraints. In such cases, a much easier option is to go for online fundraising.

In a broad sense, the concept also includes donations raised by resorting to call-to-action, wherein direct mailers, social media posts, etc., are designed with the intention to bring donor to the landing page from where he can donate. These are the options the organisation uses to raise funds. Beyond these options, there is one option that you can use to raise funds for Akshaya Patra, and that is to create an online fundraising campaign on the organisation’s website.

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You have the option of either donating to an existing campaign or you can create your own online campaign by visiting our website. When you create a customized campaign, which will have a title and the target amount of your choosing, you can share it with your friends and family via email or social network. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes from your busy schedule and you’ll become a role model for other people.

In essence, you will help Akshaya Patra reach more people and raise funds for our cause, i.e., to eliminate classroom hunger, by starting and promoting an online fundraising campaign.

As of now, we are feeding over 1.5 million children across 25 locations in the country. Our mission is to reach 5 million children by 2020 and that, we know, will be an uphill task unless we have more people on board.


Go through Gaurav Warman’s experience of online fundraising @ theakshayapatrafoundation.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/fundraising-for-an-ngo-the-akshaya-patra-experience/

Akshaya Patra Observes World Earth Day

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Earth day is observed every year across the world on April 22nd to make people aware of the importance of protecting the environment. The irony is that despite celebrating for the last 46 years, we still are unaware of the means and ways of protecting our blue planet. Earth is the only planet in the universe where life is possible but if it is continuously abused without any restraint there will be no life at all soon. We should understand that, besides us, there are many other organisms that share our planet. Our Planet which had abundant resources needs to be preserved and conserved for future generations too.

Many governmental and non-governmental organisations have come up with programmes and initiatives to bring awareness to protect earth. Even though, Akshaya Patra is not directly related to conservation of earth, the organisation implements measures to preserve the environment. They implement many eco-friendly initiatives as:

  • ‘Bio Oorja’ kitchen stoves that use biomass pellets as fuel which has helped in minimizing fuel cost by 50%.
  • The biogas plant produces about 40-50 kg of biogas from about 1000 kg of waste. (Read Consuming with Care blog to know more about the biogas plant.)
  • LED lights have been installed in the kitchens that are extremely energy efficient.
  • Recycling of water is done using Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and the waste water is used for washing vehicles used to transport the food.
  • There are solar plants to reduce dependency on bio-fuels. Technological innovation measures are implemented that has the capacity to produce 70 units of power a day is used to run all the applications in the kitchen that work on single phase power like the computers, fans and other systems. The plant runs through the use of photovoltaic (PV) cells which convert sunlight to direct current electricity through the course of the day.

Through these measures, Akshaya Patra has reduced its dependence on non-renewable sources of energy.  By using data analytics, the number of meal delivery routes has been reduced by five, lowering the fuel consumption and vehicle emission each month.

All these measures by and large adopted by Akshaya Patra contribute in protecting our environment.  We should understand that it is not only on April 22nd, we have to observe earth day. Every day should be observed as Earth day to prevent our earth from being destructed further.

 


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Akshaya Patra Kitchens in Uttar Pradesh

In a state battling malnutrition, where the Government—even though willing to do something—is bogged down by lack of resources, NGOs have a crucial role to play when it comes to socioeconomic development. The tie-up between Akshaya Patra and the State Government to serve mid-day meals in Uttar Pradesh is an example for others to follow.

Food for Education

Akshaya Patra has become a familiar name in several parts of the country; courtesy, the nutritious meals it serves to school children as a part of the Mid-day Meal Programme—arguable the largest programme of its kind in the world. For this, the organisation has got into a tie-up with ten state governments across the country, including that of the state of Karnataka, where it all began in 2001.

Akshaya Patra began with 1,500 children in 2001. The ‘will’ was always there; so it was a matter of time before the organisation started expanding reaching as far as Assam in East, Gujarat in West, and Uttar Pradesh in North. Of the 22 centralised kitchen units The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) runs in the country, two are located in the state of Uttar Pradesh: one in Vrindavan and the other in Lucknow.

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The Vrindavan kitchen is among one of the earliest kitchens the Foundation started. It was opened in August 2004, effectively making Uttar Pradesh only the second state where the NGO had expanded its operations. It was ISO 22000:2005 certified in 2008. As of 2015, this kitchen serves 166,078 children of 1,870 schools in its catchment area.

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Its second kitchen in Uttar Pradesh was set up by the NGO in Lucknow just over a year ago. It was inaugurated on 15th March, 2015, by the Chief Minister of the state, Shri Akhilesh Yadav. It serves 11,373 children of 110 schools in and around the city of Lucknow. Together, the two kitchens feed 177,451 children of the state’s government schools.

Watch the video of CM of UP, Akhilesh Yadav inaugurates Akshaya Patra Kitchen in Lucknow:

Unlike the Akshaya Patra kitchens in South, which follow a rice-based diet, the two kitchens in Uttar Pradesh follow a wheat-based diet with roti as the staple component of the meals served. Besides roti, these kitchens also serve khichdi, dal, vegetables, etc. The aim is to provide stipulated calories and protein to children.

Mid day meal menu

After Vrindavan and Lucknow, the State Government is expected to provide mid-day meal in Uttar Pradesh‘s other cities such as Kanauj, Varanasi, Kanpur, etc.

Even Akshaya Patra intends to expand to other parts of the country in a bid to reach out to more children. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the NGO aims to reach 5 million children by 2020 and more importantly, eliminate classroom hunger. You can play a crucial role in the NGO’s pursuit of 5 million children by contributing.

When you donate to feed children in need, you are basically ensuring that they don’t have to work to support their family. Instead, they can concentrate on schooling as education is the way out of poverty for most of these children.


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World Health Day: Children Health and Mid-day Meals

world health day

The World Health Organisation (WHO)—a UN agency concerned with public health at the international level—was founded on 7th April, 1948. In order to commemorate its founding, it was decided to observe 7th April as the World Health Day. While the WHO uses the day to spread awareness about some health issue of major importance, the same is also used by various organisations working in the field of public health to draw people’s attention to issues of concern and put forth some solutions. In India, hunger and malnutrition are two such issues, and the Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDMS) is one of the solutions.

On 28th November, 2001, the Supreme Court of India directed the State Governments “to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government-aided primary school with a prepared mid-day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 g of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days.” The stipulated nutritional content has since been raised to 450 calories and 12 g protein for children in primary schools and 700 calories and 20 g protein for children in upper-primary schools.

Mid-day Meal and Children’s Health

In a country where malnutrition is rampant, 450 calories a day come as a blessing in disguise; all the more so because at times this is the lone meal many of these children afford. If malnutrition levels in India have dropped from 42.5% in 2005-06 to 30% in 2013-14, it’s partly because of feeding initiatives like the MDMS and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Mid-day meal guidelines also state that the meals served should supply micronutrients like iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin A, etc., to the beneficiaries, thus making it a wholesome meal necessary for proper growth. It’s important to provide nutrient-rich healthy food to children, as the lack of these nutrients can result in problems like stunting (low height-for-age) and wasting (low weight-for-age).

The meals are prepared after taking specific guidelines into consideration to make sure that children get necessary nutrients. In some states, a list of recipes is provided and the schools are expected to pick one every day, whilst being careful not to repeat it that week. In some states, the vegetables used to prepare meals are repeated on a daily basis.

School teachers are testimony to the change the MDM programme has brought about, especially in the context of children’s health. Earlier, many children used to reach school on an empty stomach; at times, even having missed their previous night’s dinner. As a result, it was difficult for them to concentrate on what they were being taught in school. Since the implementation of MDMS, students are faring better in academics as their concentration has improved.

Lack of a nutritious meal on a daily basis made children weak and thus, prone to missing school. The improvement in nutrition levels of children because of MDMS has translated into reduced absenteeism and dropout rates. With examples like these, it’s but obvious that the mid-day meal is of utmost importance for these people.

Good Hygiene – Sound Health

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Mid-day meals are not just directly contributing to the health and nutrition of children, but also helping indirectly by inculcating good habits in them. According to the new MDM guidelines, it’s mandatory for all schools serving mid-day meals to allocate hand washing time as a part of the school timetable in order to ensure that children wash their hands with soap both, before and after their meal. Hand washing is a hygienic practice which helps keep several diseases at bay. Studies reveal that washing hands with soap reduces the likelihood of diarrhoea by a whopping 48 percent.

The best part is that the MDMS is having a positive impact on both, health and education sectors. In the education sector, it acts as a perfect incentive to bring children to school. In fact, there are cases where school-going children are accompanied by their younger siblings for that one nutritious meal. It’s worth noting that the Public-private Partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, is helping the State Governments to feed hungry children across the country.

At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that it’s because of the MDMS that children, who would have otherwise been working to support their family, can now have a nutritious meal … and dare to pursue their dreams. So why not use this World Health Day to further the cause and help the concerned agencies to reach more children.

Read on the eve of World Health Day, how Akshaya Patra is addressing malnutrition at: blog.akshayapatra.org/world-health-day


 

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