The Just One Program usually provides food to the children of the Shiva Ji MIssion School each Saturday. However last Saturday's program was postponed until today, Monday 29th August. Last Saturday the government closed all schools due to the flooding affecting large areas of Varanasi, but today they are again reopened. However the numbers of students attending remain lower today - around 250 students - due to the flooding.
Today Just One is returning to the Shiva Ji Mission School following the Republic Day celebrations earlier in the week. When we entered the gates on Republic Day we were met with huge excitement and lots of chatter, waves and a big buzz of activity everywhere. It is now 5 days later, the 20th August, and when we open the gates there is only silence. The 270 students are all at their benches with their heads down working had on their lessons.
August 19 opened as another bright sunny day, as the Just One team headed to the Sathya Sai Maa Moksha Dham at Harishchandra Ghat. The Ashram has been cleaned and tidied to prepare for the food distribution program to be held there today. This program is for the local children, and the primary purpose of this program is to build relationship with our local neighbours and establish the Ashram's presence in the local neighbourhood.
The children who attend this program at the Ashram are still from poor families, so the dense nutritious meals they receive are welcomed bot by the children and by the parents themselves. The children are especially fond of the Kheer, a milk and rice pudding that always contains raisins, nuts and lotus seeds. in addition to kheer Just One always provides the children with a hot, thick vegetable curry (today this is chickpea, potato and eggplant) and fresh hot poori (small round deep fried Indian breads) are also seved
August 15 is Republic Day in India and the next Just One program has been scheduled to complement the Republic Day celebrations at the Shiva Ji Mission School. In India Republic Day is celebrated by all schools and businesses to recognise and honour India’s path to nationhood and to educate and remind Indians of their heritage. As such, rather than being a holiday, ceremonies of commemoration are held in the morning at schools and many offices, and today Just One has accepted to be part of these celebrations at Shiva Ji Mission School.
Today is Saturday, 6th August. I am driving through the usual crazy, unexpected chaos of traffic in Varanasi on my way to Shiva Ji Mission School for Just One's weekly food distribution program. I do notice it is busier than usual on this Saturday morning, but this has little impact on my journey to Lakshmanpur where the school is located.
Every time I walk into this school the joy and love of the students at being part of the Just One program is palpable.
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