Feeding 1,200 school going children from 5 Schools, a sumptuous morning breakfast came out of a beautiful experience. One afternoon as a few of our volunteers were going by a poor slum in Bangalore, the appalling living conditions they saw shocked them. They got down and interacted with the people dwelling there and found that their children were very unwell most times and went hungry to school. A little child was fast asleep hungry on the floor of her home made of a tarpaulin sheet in the hot sun. Children were going to school on empty stomachs and were falling sick. On interacting more with these children, the volunteers found that they were unable to bear the pangs of hunger during the day. The children wanted to be Doctors, Engineers, Pilots, Join the armed forces but how could they study on empty stomachs. We feel hungry and our stomachs growl in the day time they said. When Sai Aashraya was formed, the motivation to serve breakfast every day to these children came out of these little children’s words. Serving breakfast to school going children who didn’t have what it took to get one square meal a day is a cause all of us can relate to.
Why we do
Today, the children of these very humble little schools nestled away in busy corners of Bangalore, are healthier and happier. “They ask questions, they play, they do all the extra-curricular activities…. Oh, God this is just amazing” These are the words a teacher from one of the schools said one afternoon. Initially, There were 50 children having breakfast every day that time and hot breakfast was being cooked at 4 Am at Home. The teacher had seen the difference in these children and then she said, “Could you take up the entire school and serve breakfast to all the children” An instant Yes and in a week Sai Aashraya was feeding breakfast to 150 school going children every day. In a year Sai Aashraya has expanded the Breakfast Seva Project to 5 Schools.
Here is a transformation experience we had when the Breakfast Seva project began. One evening a politician who owned the piece of land where these families lived, demolished their homes. What followed was an event that moved many hearts. The families relocated to homes with basic facilities. A Toilet and a Bathroom. A small Kitchen and a living room. Sai Aashraya had been trying to build toilets in the slum and the volunteers were insisting the families to develop good hygiene and sanitation habits but the politician refused to let any development happen and continued to demand higher rents from the families who could not afford it. Eventually the families made this life changing decision. But here is a statement a father made that Everyone in Sai Aashraya recollect. “Today, I feel the need for my children to live and study in an environment that is clean and tidy. You (Sai Aashraya) are doing so much for us and this is the least we can do for You”.
The menu changes everyday and we have a scheduled time table that we follow. We have two items listed on each day that will be cooked on alternate weeks.
What we do
Sai Aashraya then started distributing school bags, notebooks, and stationery to all these children who today are more confident and bold. They are happy children today. While serving breakfast was the primary activity the need to impart true education was always there and the method was to teach children by imparting Educare which is Education with Human Values. The change took time to come but it did and these children today are self-confident, and are taking those little strides to being role models and are eager to take care of children like them in the future. One morning a question was asked to a little boy as to what he aspires to be in his life. With a twinkle in his eyes he said, “I want to grow up and serve food to all children who don’t have food to eat and I will do so by being a doctor”. The goal was to Serve and the means to achieve the end goal was clear in this little lad’s heart.
Sai Aashraya takes care of the medical needs of these children and their parents too and the volunteers say that they feel they have not just the 2 children in their homes alone, they have 720 little children more waiting to see them when they come in to the schools next morning; their real sunrise. Today Sai Aashraya takes care of these 5 schools and has also taken up 2 more schools where a nutritious lunch is served for 430 children everyday. How did this lunch serving begin? Here is the experience that led to the start of the lunch serving.
Once a teacher who was walking in the evening through a small street, found her students, a 6th grade student and two younger siblings sleeping on the footpath in the dark shivering in the cold without a blanket. They hadn't taken lunch and had gone to sleep hungry. It brought tears to her eyes and she came running to a Sai Aashraya volunteer to convey the same. The school began a little late, so the children would have at least a small bite and some ragi before coming to school. But lunch was something they had just in the weekend. That's when a decision was made to serve lunch to all these Children. The next day on till today the children have never slept hungry. What better feeling can one get than watching those wonderful children smile and play around just how children should!! 1150 Children and their families today are under the Loving Care Of Sai Aashraya. This has created an impact that words really cannot describe! Just pure Love and the magic it creates!