Chauka Ghat is one of my favorite areas of the Just One program. It is located along the railroad tracks a few kilometers east of the main Varanasi railway station. Just One has come here many times over the years and during this time the people living here have changed many times. This is a highly mobile community, even for Varanasi, probably due to the fact that these people are living on a government right of way spanning both sides of the railway - a sort of unsupervised, no man’s land where the poor squat.
Panchapandwa, the community supported by the Just One Hunger Initiative on October 26th, is a small community along a long dirt street that runs off the main road out of Varanasi. When our rickshaw reaches the community we park in a trash covered open area with very humble, dilapidated buildings on either side. At first it is not clear where the program is being held, and I approach some women making dried papadums. Their faces are open with a smile and a welcome as they redirect us to the program at the other side of the park.
It has been some time since we shared food with the children and communities around the Sathya Sai Maa Moksha Dham in Harishchandra Ghat, Varanasi. On October 9th, we again took the opportunity to spend time with the many lively children living around the Sai Maa Ashram, many of whom have come to know and appreciate the heart and love of Sai Maa.
Today’s program offered 170 meals of potato and cauliflower stew, Indian bread (puri) and sweet rice pudding (khir). One of the amazing moments in Just One programs at Sai Maa’s Ashram is always the blessing of the food.
On October 5th, the Just One team visited Pilina Kathara to conduct a feeding of approximately 140 children. Pilina Kathara is an area of government housing for people below the poverty line. The parents of the families have jobs such as sweeping streets, rearing pigs, or are domestic workers cleaning homes and washing dishes.
When we arrived, the food preparation was well underway, with local university students working alongside the ASMITA team. The fresh vegetables had just been cooked on a wood fire, which gave the vegetables a distinct flavour, and a handful of ladies were working to roll the dough and fry the bread called puris.
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