Three Important Reasons Why You Should Give Back

The word ‘Give’ in the context of ‘Giving Back’ has a very interesting meaning to it. According to Etymonline, “The Middle English noun yeve (Give), meant “that which is given or offered; a contribution of money,” often as tribute, or in expectation of something in return.”

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‘Giving back’ usually supersedes with the word society. Ever since, people realized that humanity could make a great difference, the race has been helping communities by empowering them. Similarly, Akshaya Patra has been feeding the children in India to ensure they do not experience classroom hunger.

If you have been thinking of giving back to society, now is the time! We collated three important benefits of giving back and here they are:

You will help someone grow

As an individual, you may want to give back to society by paying someone’s school fees. Many families who come from difficult background are burdened by their children’s schools fees and unable to pay, they choose to send them on work. This could be your chance to give back.

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Giving back will not only help the child be a part of school system, but will also help you grow as a person. To understand the issues deeply and to step up to correct them is our responsibility and by giving back, you will have contributed to the growth of an individual, their family, and their community.

You will build stronger communities

Among many activities, Akshaya Patra regularly organises Health Awareness Programmes for school children with the help of corporates; these programmes include discussions and hygiene kit distribution.

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Kit Distribution

When we as a community go out to help another, it transforms and structures their living standards and also contributes to their health. This includes helping a community with a nursing home, a school, awareness programmes and basic infrastructure. For Akshaya Patra, a children’s charity, registered under section 80G of Income Tax Act, providing a mid-day meal is one way to empower a network a students.

And finally, you will spread happiness!

This is probably the most important reason for the giver and the receiver; happiness. The experience of giving back to society keeps you content! The inner joy of having transformed a life, without expecting returns, is a feeling that words cannot describe.

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Shoe Distribution

To experience this joy, go out and do your noble act that you’ve always wanted to do. Try visiting a school, buying stationery for a child or maybe even a pair of school shoes. The simple things in life tend to leave a curve on your face. Happiness is contagious and so is an act of giving back.

As you call it a day, think of reasons why you should give back to society and when you do, Akshaya Patra’s children will be waiting for your help.

Sponsor a child today!

Of Quality Education: what defines quality?

Running a children’s charity would mean providing the little ones the basic necessities of life which they are deprived of for various reasons. Akshaya Patra opened its doors to Indian children in the year 2000 by providing them mid-day meals in government schools and government-aided schools. Vision: No child should be deprived of education because of hunger.

Ever since India began its Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the drop-out rates have decreased and enrolment rates in schools have increased. However, Mid-Day Meal is only one of the factors in making this possible. With the help of central and state governments, Akshaya Patra, an NGO in India, has been providing mid-day meals to school children for the last 16 years.

Now with more and more children in schools, the country is focusing on Quality Education – one of the goals proposed by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). In 2015, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) proposed Sustainable Development Goals to 194 countries. Among the 17 aspirational goals with objective to transform the world, the fourth goal is Quality Education. Akshaya Patra is playing a vital role as an NGO in India in education sector, highlights the understanding on Quality Education.

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What is Quality Education?

According to a paper presented by UNICEF, five points define Quality Education.

  • Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and supported in learning by their families and communities;
  • Environments that are healthy, safe, protective and gender-sensitive, and provide adequate resources and facilities;
  • Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition of basic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and peace;
  • Processes through which trained teachers use child-centered teaching approaches in well-managed classrooms and schools and skillful assessment to facilitate learning and reduce disparities;
  • Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society.

(Source: unicef.org/education/files/QualityEducation.PDF)

The first point talks about students who are ‘healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate.’ This very objective is followed by Akshaya Patra in its large-scale feeding initiatives.

Quality Education, we believe leads to remarkable success. With literacy rates rising, we should also focus on providing inclusive and quality education to ensure progress.

UNDP states: “Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.”

Akshaya Patra’s Food for Education initiative embraces two most critical sustainable development goals – Zero Hunger and Quality Education. You can show your support by sponsoring a child’s meal for an entire academic year. Make a charity donation and win tax exemption in India.

The Importance of Healthy Childhood

Nothing is as fraught with significance as healthy childhood because this is where a better future roots. It ensures good physical, mental and emotional health which ultimately contributes to the multifaceted growth of an individual. Unfortunately, many from the marginalised sections of our society are defenseless against undernutrition and the choice of giving up on education. Sad, isn’t it? However, there are exceptions and this is where NGOs’ roles in India come to play. Akshaya Patra, a Bangalore-based prestigious child NGO has been providing selfless service since 16 years and has served more than 2.12 billion quality meals so far.

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As a moral obligation, we too should help in ensuring healthy living conditions for all kids especially the underprivileged ones and help them grow as a fit individual for following reasons.

  1. Healthy food provides good immunity power and reduces disease risk

These days it is common to see children having weak eyesight, low stamina, muscular pain, high vulnerability to cough and cold etc. Most of these general problems are consequences of improper nutrition. It is essential to intake a healthy and balanced diet as it provides vital nutrients for the strengthening of immunity power and hence reduces the risk of diseases in children. At growing age, developing healthy eating habits and good resistance against diseases is relatively easy. So the diets should be accordingly planned.

  1. Healthy meals are the key to the cognitive, physical and social development of children

The quality of meal that children consume determines the overall growth of their body and mind. Their concentration, learning abilities, skills, physique, and interaction habits are all a direct function of how well their bodies are supplied with required nutrients. It is observed that children who are well fed are often more cheerful, intelligent, optimistic and surely healthier. Akshaya Patra, the child NGO of Bangalore, takes good care of this aspect in the meals that it provides. It abides by the dietary norms of central Mid-Day Meal Scheme and the prescribed levels of nutrition. The efforts of such organisations truly prove what great roles the NGOs in India can play in eradicating undernourishment.

  1. Healthy today, better tomorrow

If kids are ensured with a healthy childhood, there are ample chances that the results stay long-term. Good physical and mental development imply good dedication towards education, gaining knowledge, learning moral values, increased productivity, better judgment of right and wrong, and a healthy body of course. Thus a balanced diet including sufficient quantities of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber should be provided as each component has its own contribution to the overall development. We have the power to secure better future by taking care of the nutrition of our children as well as of those who are unaware and helpless.

Undoubtedly, giving some of what we have to ensure a healthy childhood and a better future for all kids is the best gift ever. Donate to sponsor a child’s meals for an entire year!

The Different Techniques to Ensure Children Enjoy School

Children change their minds more quickly than grown-ups. One moment, they have an urge to play, another moment, they want to eat something specific. What’s the key to keep them motivated for school without repelling them from certain subjects? At Akshaya Patra, an NGO in India, we have first-hand experience of coping with this during the Mid-day Meal Programme run in schools in collaboration with the government.  Here’s what we have tried and tested over the years. We are happy to share this little piece of wisdom with parents who often struggle to send their kids to school.

Fun enforcement or no enforcement

Make sure that you learn to bite your tongue when children refrain from going to school. While it’s good to hear their reasons, you must also be able to tell when a child is only playing you. Count the things your child loves about school. It could be friends or a games period or a drawing class. If you really know what your kid is interested in, you will know what to say when sending them off to school. For instance, reward your children when they agree to go to school without tantrums. At Akshaya Patra, we encourage children to come to school so they have nutritious meals. Our sponsors who often donate for education in India find it fascinating how our volunteers and staff keep the children always excited for mid-day meals in schools.

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Appreciation

Children have a forgiving heart and so they won’t hold a grudge that you sent them to school without their will. Most likely, they will not even remember it. So make sure you develop a habit of praising your child for any big or small achievement in class. Always be a proud parent and get your kids interested in extra-curricular activities.

Plan sumptuous lunch

We have seen mothers who would cook sumptuous and nutritious lunch as a motivating factor for the children to eat during school. Akshaya Patra’s Mid-day Meal Programme in schools ensures that the lunch served is full of vegetables, proteins, dairy, grains, oils and nutrients. Just the whole excitement of opening the lunch box during school often gets children excited about school.

Assure help in homework

Often children find school dreary and a burden due to the homework. They often feel overwhelmed and scared. Always be the parent who makes homework a team activity. Ensure you are always around to guide, instruct and help the child as he or she sits down for homework. That would assure the child of an ever-present help and would motivate them to look forward to school.

Akshaya Patra is an NGO in India that has been running Mid-Day Meals Programme in schools since 2000. One of our biggest lessons during this programme over the years has been that children need motivation at every step in their lives. As for the Mid-Day Meal Programme, the organisation is working towards building a sustainable network of kitchens to reach five million children by 2020. If you are someone who is considering donating for education in India, you are welcome to join our mission.

10 Ingredients that make Mid-Day Meal a Healthy Eat!

The 21st century has made us more food conscious than ever. We take interest in understanding the importance of healthy food, nutrition intake, and calories and so on. To simplify the food theories, we have even created food pyramids and graphs based on age groups. Today, we all know what kind of food is acceptable for children and what isn’t.

As an NGO, Akshaya Patra aims to feed the children the right amount of mid-day meals with sufficient nutritional values. We believe mid-day meal benefits every child. Before we share our little secret on keeping children healthy, here’s a bit of history on Nutrition. The word ‘Nutrition’ means ‘nourishment’ and first originated in Latin during early 15th century. Centuries later, when hunger was identified as an issue, a prefix Mal which means ‘bad’ was used to describe poor nutritional levels – malnutrition.

For Akshaya Patra, it is important that children receive the right amount of nutrients in their food. Here’s a list of ingredients used in mid-day meals along with their nutrition value:

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To break the cycle of hunger among children, a country must do a lot – introduce nutritional school lunch programmes, ensure initiatives are reaching the target group, prioritise education, stabilise low-income families with subsidies and health care benefits, and many more. Akshaya Patra’s menu of mid-day meals is such that it covers the basics of nutrition intake and calories, making it one of the best diets for children!

Besides clothing and shelter, food is one of the basic needs for humans. We have reached a point in time where most of us are able to afford these basic needs however, lack of food among children continues to be a persistent issue. Let’s act to ensure children receive the two most important elements that can help them grow – food and education. Sponsor a child by donating Rs 950 and be assured that he or she will receive wholesome mid-day meals for an entire academic year!

How Nutritional Value is Important for Children?

Dictionaries define nutrition as “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.” Unfortunately obtaining food for health and nutrition worldwide has proved to be tougher challenge than it was perceived. Providing healthy food for children is a concern that transcends geographical boundaries. Fresh and healthy food is a basic right of every child, and there is a need to make sure that they get it every day.

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Unfortunately, we live in a divided world where one section of the society is wasting food while the other is deprived of it. Children are on the receiving end because quite often they are not the bread-earners to be able to fetch food. Several children, who do get food, may not get a diet full of health and nutrition.  At Akshaya Patra, when our target of 2 billion meals was achieved recently, nutrition was still top of our priority. 

The Global Nutrition Report 2016 reveals data on the status of hunger, malnourishment and poor diets in children and adults as well. The report suggests that it’s even more difficult for little children who have to experience hunger and a hard time to get meals twice a day. Nutrition is required for children so as to ensure their growth and a hunger-free life. In India, however, the reality is major part of the population isn’t capable of arranging food for hungry children even once a day.

Nutritional status of children in India:

  • UNICEF reports, almost 20% of children less than 5 years are wasted due to undernutrition.
  • Approximately 61 million children are stunted due to chronic undernutrition
  • More than one-third of wasted children and three out of every ten stunted children in the world, live in India itself
  • Millions of children suffer from micronutrient malnutrition and calorie deficiency
  • The ratio of underweight children is in rural areas increase every year unexpectedly
  • Around 50% of the children under 5 years are underweight and prone to infections

 How’s nutrition vital for children?

Physical growth: Studies have proved that a child needs proper nutrition in order to achieve full height. The same is also true for the rest of his physical growth. There are children who suffer from several physical ailments due to lack of nutrition and good health.

Mental faculties: Health and nutrition pave way for the children to develop their mental faculties. Any pediatrician would testify that the right balance of omega fatty acids in children’s daily diet contribute towards brain activity, development and capabilities. Similarly, each ingredient in a balanced diet adds to a child’s mental growth. That’s precisely why we combined mid-day meals with education in schools and emphasised on providing healthy food for children.

Feeling of wellness: Children who get regular diet and nutritious food are often active in their school and on playground. Remember that children are still exploring the world with their little experience. They have more energy that needs channelising physically. This can happen only when a child has ample nutrition in his body. Such children have a greater sense of well-being and wellness.

Health and nutrition have a lot of value in a child’s growth. It goes without saying that for the overall mental and physical development of any human being, nutrition plays a vital role. It becomes crucial especially for children who are not aware what’s best for them. The children need help and guidance along with a regular supply of nutritious food. We have been providing mid-day meals in schools through our centralised kitchens in 24 locations across 10 states.

You can help children get the right balance of diet with just a click. Donate to charity today!

School Admission Time for the Beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra (Part-2)

In the first part, we have seen how Akshaya Patra improvises the quality and excellence of its kitchens for welcoming its beneficiary children after the vacations. This non-profit organisation in India is striving hard to provide nutritious mid-day meals to children in Government schools.

The burning problem in India is hunger and illiteracy among school children.  Most of the children studying in Government schools hail from low income families, who do not have provision for a proper meal a day. A hungry child becomes unhealthy, less attentive and hence a poor learner.  The child might be a drop-out and start searching for his own food ending up as a child labourer.

Alarmingly, National Census 2011 reveals that in India there are 10.12 million child labourers aged 5 to 14.  In the backdrop of food insecurity, a child can never concentrate in class. Realizing the issue, Akshaya Patra serves unlimited food for education to school children, so that hunger won’t be a restraint in their path to education. If the problem of hunger and malnourishment are solved, children can concentrate in studies.

NGO for Children

In the recent years, it has been witnessed that mid-day meals attracts children in coming to school. Its benefits extend beyond class rooms, making children healthy by boosting their energy, breaking poverty in households, serving as an investment for the future of a child making him/her educated and literate. For most of the children it would be the only nutritious meal in a day. Thus, micronutrient deficiencies that cause severe health problems are solved. It can also be considered as a bonus that will help children to stay at school so that the enrolment and attendance are increased in schools and hence paving the paths of progress, development and success of the nation.

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Education plays an important role in the life of a child.  It is education that moulds an illiterate child into an enlightened individual. So, this non-profit organisation in India, feeds the children with mid-day meals to keep hunger at bay and help them to lead a progressive future. Thus, solving the problems related to health, education and child labour.

Akshaya Patra reaches out to 1.5 million children in 24 locations across 10 states of India. Here is a brief survey of the states Akshaya Patra is serving mid-day meals in

  • Andhra Pradesh, 28051 children are served across 109 schools
  • Assam, 53649 children are served across 592 schools.
  • Chhattisgarh, 23647 children are served across 160 schools.
  • Gujarat, 400158 children are served across 1653 schools.
  • Karnataka, 463682 children are served across 26289 schools.
  • Odisha, 125242 children are served across 1461 schools.
  • Rajasthan 135910 students are served across 1830 schools.
  • Tamil Nadu 718 students are served.
  • Telangana, 54849 students across 454 schools and
  • Uttar Pradesh, 150663 students across 1983 schools.

The organisation is striving tirelessly to spread its roots across to other states in India.  As responsible citizens of society, let us join hands to solve the problem of hunger which is an obstacle in a child’s progressive life. It is our social responsibility to see that no child becomes a labourer for the want of food and be malnourished for dearth of food. It is our duty to ensure that students will not be drop-outs for food.

Let us be part of Akshaya Patra in serving unlimited food for education by giving donation for the NGO. Every donation of Rs 500 or above is eligible for 100% tax exemption benefits. Within ten days of making the donation, tax receipts can be expected. It takes only Rs.750 to feed a child for a year!

Read the previous blog on School Admission Time for the Beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra

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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Less Obvious Benefits of the Mid-day Meal Scheme

While the primary objectives of Mid-day Meal Programme are to avoid classroom hunger, improve school enrolment and attendance, and address the issue of malnutrition, the benefits of this scheme go well beyond these objectives.

The Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDMS) in its full-fledged form was implemented in 2004 to address two key issues: hunger and education. As a part of this scheme, a wholesome meal is provided to all children in the 6 to 14 age group studying in government and government-aided schools, making nutritious meal a reality for children who otherwise can’t afford a square meal.

Mid day meal

With the implementation of this scheme, it became easier for the authorities to convince people to send their children to school. Children, for their part, were more than eager to come to school, as a result of which school enrolment and attendance improved. It also helped in solving the problem of classroom hunger—one of the main reasons for lack of concentration in school children.

Government School Children

Over the years, the Mid-day Meal Scheme has done a fair bit to eradicate hunger and promote education, but these are not the only two areas where the scheme has helped. There exist other areas where the indirect impact of the same has been felt.

It Promotes Socialisation

Happy Children

Among the less-known advantages of mid-day meal scheme, one of the most important is the fact that it fosters the habit of eating together in children. The sight of all children coming together every afternoon for their meal is a sight to treasure. This intermingling improves unity among them. You can never stress enough on the importance of socialisation in India. The ambitious mid-day meal programme has helped ensure that caste, religion, or other similar factors don’t come in between children and education.

It Provides Employment Opportunities

Akshaya Patra Decentralized Kitchen

The Mid-day Meal Programme is the largest school meal programme in the world, feeding over 120 million children of over 1 million schools. But obviously, an operation of this scale will require a huge workforce. According to the data put forth by the Government, the Programme employs around 2.6 million people across the country as cooks and helpers.

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Besides the cooks and helpers hired by schools, there are several individuals who are employed by the NGOs who have got into a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Government to implement this scheme. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which feeds over 1.5 million school children across ten states of India, hires about 6300 people. The not-for-profit organisation based out of Bengaluru also operates two decentralised kitchens where women self-help groups (SHGs), who have a better idea of the local palette, are employed.

Other Benefits

The guidelines put forth by the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE), state that the Government should ‘mobilize community support and promote public-private partnership for the programme’ wherever possible.

Yet another less-known benefit of the mid-day meal scheme is that it helps the local economy as perishable commodities, like vegetables, dals, oil, etc., are purchased from the local market.

Chopped Vegetables

In essence, the Mid-day Meal Programme has done a lot for the children of our country. However, considering the vast size of our country, we understand that there’s a lot to be done. If we are to achieve this, we need to work together; all of us, Central and state governments, partnering NGOs, communities, and every single stakeholder.

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Akshaya Patra has been working in this field for more than 15 years now, so we can say we can confidently say we have enough experience and expertise required to take things ahead. What we need is your support through online donation to ensure that more children reach school and script their own future.

Charity and festivity

donate to charity

India is known for its varied culture and festivities. Aside the regular festivals it is also a destination for splendid weddings and receptions. Not just Indians but foreign nationals too choose India to be the address for their weddings. Behind the brighter appearance of these celebrations and festivals, there exists a gripping reality of enormous food wastage and concerning hunger struck population.

To slightly mitigate the two stark situations, there are NGOs that work towards procuring the left-over food of the celebrations and distribute among the needy. However, this does not provide a permanent solution to the hunger situation prevailing in the country. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a NGO that implements the mid-day meal programme across Government schools in India. This Foundation prepares fresh and nutritious meals for Government school children. It also provides meals at Anganwadi centres under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Akshaya Patra has observed that to tackle the critical situation of hunger it has to be dealt with at the root cause i.e. poverty. Thus, by providing mid-day meal to children it also incentivises the child to attend school regularly which in turn allows the child to receive education. In line with this, Akshaya Patra ensures that the meal served should meet the local palate of the children.

Having been implementing the midday meal programme well over a decade, Akshaya Patra has amply gauged the potential of societal involvement in countering hunger and promoting education thereby resulting in eradication of poverty. Thus Akshaya Patra has made available the platform to volunteer and contribute in all possible ways. One of the ways to get involved with the activities of the Foundation is to make a charity during festivals and celebrations like weddings, birthdays, success parties and the like. As we gear up for celebrations, more often than not we miss out to consider our counterparts who struggle each day to get a plateful of meal. Remaining sensitive to the basic need of food, you can choose to make a donation for the underserved children as you revel in your festivity.

Your contribution will be a gift for the millions of children who too hopes to on day break the shackles of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.

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