On January 9th, the Just One Hunger Initiative attended the Shiva Ji Mission School on the outskirts of Bhojubheer and held a food distribution program for its students. This school is a free school for children whose parents cannot afford the normal government school fees, and has a catchment area of approximately 20km in radius. This means that the children attending here are generally from the poorer social strata, and the current benefactor has told us that often children do come without having been fed and sometimes even appear malnourished,
Discipline and service are strong ethics at this school, and the older students automatically move to assist the younger students. The bags of the younger students are moved out of the way and then the meals are served. On the advice of the teachers, servings begin with a small amount of vegetables and 2 puri for the youngest students. However it soon becomes clear that this is not enough. Even the teachers are surprised at the amount consumed by some of these small bodies. I see the teachers smiling and shaking their heads in disbelief – but there is enough for all and the servings continue until the hunger is satisfied.
The students are served from youngest to oldest, all receiving as much of the vegetables and puri as they wish. Seconds, thirds and even fourths are served. The sweet, the kheer, is however limited to one serving per student. Sweets are popular with children everywhere, but in India sweets are extremely popular and diabetes is high.
We also provide bins for the trash, and it is interesting to watch the children when asked to dispose of their plates. In India used plates are usually just thrown on the ground somewhere away from the meal area, and it was clear that some of the children were unfamiliar with bins. Even though the bin was centrally placed and the teachers directed the students towards the bins they still want to throw the plates on the ground around the bin. Older students are placed near the bins to provide directions, and some of the younger ones stand watching the plates in the bins, seemingly fascinated by this way of disposing of things.
In speaking with the headmaster and teachers afterwards, everyone was extremely satisfied with the day and the service to the children. We served approximately 310 meals to students and 10 to the teachers. The food was good quality and nutritious and the children themselves were VERY excited to receive the nourishing meal and accompanying sweet.