The Akshaya Patra Foundation provides hot, school meals to more than 1.3 million children across India. Our meals encourage school enrollment, and giving under-served children access to life-changing educational opportunities. We would like to share with you the story of Sanjay, who dreams of a bright future:
Although Sanjay is just about three and a half feet tall at 13 years of age, the ambitious boy wants to join the armed forces when he grows up. “You need to be much taller for that,” says his teacher, Sugunavati, in a playful tone. One cannot be fooled by his size as this bright boy studying at the Mahadevi Hiriya Prathamika Shaale, Mysore, has an equally bright future since he is one of the highest scorers in his school. Despite his family’s economically unfortunate condition, he has a strong hold on his dreams and is working towards them.
When asked as to how this ambition came about, Sanjay said, “This has always been my ambition. I want to serve my country by becoming an Army Officer. My uncle who is in the Army is my inspiration. Besides protecting my country, I have observed my uncle’s confidence, his gait and personality to choose the defence for a goal.”
Sanjay stays in Sunkudkere, an area in Mysore which is known for frequent power cuts and water problems. His mother works as a domestic helper in households and has to leave early every morning. Due to time constraints she cannot prepare food for her three children, two of whom are girls. There are days when the kids have to depend entirely on the food that is provided by Akshaya Patra in their school. Sanjay is one such child who not only depends on this midday meal, but also loves the fresh hot and tasty food he gets from Akshaya Patra. “I’m grateful that such a facility is made available to us and I enjoy the food provided by Akshaya Patra to us,” says the boy.
Child activist Grace Abbott once said, “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” On June 12, 2013 the world will celebrate World Day Against Child Labor and recommit itself to eradicating child labor . Child labor endangers the lives of children and prevents them from accessing the educational opportunities that can truly deliver them out of poverty.
Grace Abbott's words ring true in India, where some 26.8 million children are not attending school. Many come from impoverished families that struggle to earn the basic necessities. Economic necessities push some 45.2 million of these children (14 %) to take up menial labor jobs instead of going to school. 60% of children who dropped out of school cited the need to supplement family income through household chores and domestic work, and another 30% cited the need to earn money. In order to provide for their basic needs, families have to focus on short term goals, suing their children's labor. As a result, these families remain caught in a vicious cycle of poverty.
The story of Vishal, the little magician from Jaipur, is typical of many children caught in the cycle of poverty and illustrates how Akshaya Patra's innovative school lunch program is changing the equation for over 1.3 million under-privileged children. At one time you could find Vishal performing magic tricks in the streets of Jaipur. His mother, who works as a day laborer, says “I am forced to send my children to earn. Every parent has a dream, but my day-to-day thoughts are all about feeding our hungry stomachs. Earlier I would tell him to work the entire day, but because he gets good food and at the same time learns some lessons, I allow him to attend school most of the days.” She hopes that Vishal doesn’t lead a life of hardship and hopes that education will transform his life.
Your support of Akshaya Patra can make a difference in the lives of children by providing them with meals that act as an incentive for them to come to school, instead of to work.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been ranked 24th in the world in the Global Journal’s 2013 edition of their 100 Top NGOs annual ranking. The Global Journal, an international journal based in Geneva, selects the top NGOs around the world that exemplify three key criteria: impact, innovation, and sustainability. Akshaya Patra was ranked 1st of these NGOs for the “Children & Youth” category.
Our program is making a positive impact in the lives of over one million children. With your continued support, we are sure to reach our next milestone of feeding five million deserving children by 2020! Thank you for supporting our program!
As the holiday season quickly approaches I can't help but feel thankful and joyous at all we have been able to accomplish this year with the support of compassionate donors like you. Below are some highlights of what we have been up to since August 2012:
Akshaya Patra continues to serve a nuritious meal to nearly 1.4 million children DAILY and we are well on our way to reaching our goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020. Your support has enabled this growth and brought smiles of hope to the faces of deserving children. During the upcoming holidays, let us remember the Akshaya Patra children who have become part of our families and that each of us has made a commitment to ensure that hunger is not a barrier to education for them.
Here's hoping the holidays brings you and your family bright sparkles of contentment and peace that stay with you throughout the year!
All the best,
I have some very exciting news to share!
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has accomplished the significant milestone of serving one billion meals to school children in India from the program’s inception. To commemorate this momentous occasion legendary singer and brand ambassador Shankar Mahadevan composed and sung a special song written by Javed Akthar and performed it live at the celebration in Bangalore on August 5th. The music video accompanying the song was also released and can be viewed at the link below.
Akshaya Patra’s leadership has called this occasion not only a time for celebration but a time for introspection into what has been accomplished over the last 11 years and what should be accomplished in the years to come. The organizations goal is to serve 5 million children by 2020 but there was also talk of diversifying the mid day meal program to address other challenges, such as safe drinking water and sanitation. While our core focus will remain the mid day meal program we have pledged to find ways to address these other concerns in the communities we serve.
One of the most interesting remarks at the celebration came from Mohan Das Pai who spoke of Akshaya Patra's desire to end its program by 2030. “We hope and pray fervently that by 2030 we do not have to run this program”, said Pai. “We want to see an India where there is not hunger, every child has a home, every child has great parent, every child has an education, every child has food on the table, every child has great career, and every child gets all the love and care that the child is due.”
This milestone could not have been achieved without the unstinting efforts, devotion, dedication, support and perseverance of the Akshaya Patra India team, compassionate donors around the world, like YOU, and the Government of India. Lets continue to work together to reach our goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020 and make poverty history!
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