Taking Dreams Forward One Meal at a Time

A dream cannot always become a reality through magic. Sometimes, determination is what one really needs to go for. Sparsh too wanted to achieve the greatness. Like the other children of his age, he too imagined, dreamt and believed. Gayatri was a single mother and Sparsh was his only child. With a leap of faith, they left their village in the hope of earning better at the town.

Having very little education, it was not easy for Gayatri to find a job. At last, she was employed by Tara to work as a maid. Living at a small distance from Gayatri’s abode, Tara was a working woman who needed a helper to do the household chores. Though Gayatri was now earning a little more than what she was receiving at the village factory earlier, she knew it was not enough. She would often take Sparsh along with her to Tara’s home. Disappointed to see a 7-year-old washing the utensils, Tara considered it her duty to guide Gayatri towards the future of the little child.

Tara knew only one place that was fit for a child at so tender an age, and that was a school. With the view to improve enrolment, the Government of India initiated mid-day meal services in the early 1960s. Tara was a proud soul who worked at an NGO that strengthened this initiative of the government. She did not miss the chance of telling Gayatri that the schools now not only provided education but also fed the students with healthy meals. Introduction of mid-day meal services in schools encouraged Gayatri to enrol Sparsh for nutritious food.

Sparsh was now getting healthy meals, together with education, at school. Yet he was unhappy. He did not want his mother to work as a maid. Thus, at a very small age, he began his preparation to become a police officer. He didn’t stop until his mother was proud. 15 years after, Sparsh achieved his dream and his mother was deeply satisfied. The story of Sparsh, even today, encourages the children of his village to go to school. The mid-day meal has been a beneficial scheme started by the Government of India. But more than nourishing the young minds of the country, the program has given every dream a chance.

Every time one sees child beggars on roads or child labourers in restaurants, one believes that they do not want to go to schools. And with this thought, one chooses not to help them or rather turn them away. However, what is worth considering is why these children do not go to school. Only a few people have examined the real reason. Many of the child beggars have expressed their desire to go to school and study. They do not want to work at such a small age. But having been surrounded with poverty and deprived of food, they prefer to help the hardships of their families.

The dreams of children like Sparsh have become more meaningful with nutrition and education. Truly dedicated to the empowerment of children, wholesome meals have encouraged the children, especially those who come from economically weaker sections of India, to dream more.

This mission of India to minimise hunger has beautifully transformed into the journey of fulfilling millions of dreams. In present times, the Mid-day Meal Scheme has become largest of the programs in the world. Catering to the nutritional needs of children in India, Mid-day Meal Scheme has solved the problem of hunger and has also inspired many children to go to school. Thus, it has also strengthened the future pillars of India.

Interestingly, the program has not just bridged the gap between hunger and education but has also generated employment. As many as 577,000 kitchens have been set up and over 2.4 million cooks and helpers have been employed to run these. More impressive is another fact that through this program, a bigger number of women have found jobs. In a larger way, the scheme has been improving the quality of lives of both children and women of the country.

The Mid-day Meal Scheme started by the government of the country became an inspirational campaign. In an effort to work for the welfare of the poor children, Ekta Shakti Foundation also initiated the Child Nutrition Program across the states of Delhi and Bihar. Feeding as many as 6 lakh children every day, the non-profit organization has reduced hunger and improved school enrolment and attendance as well. Their mid-day meal service is soon going to spread across the state of Andhra Pradesh to contribute greater growth and development to the country. The organization aspires to grow more and uplift many underprivileged children to accomplish their dreams.