Maria Seva Sangha’s Nutrition Scheme arranges to serve a hot, nourishing meal each to some of the children in 21 schools across Bangalore today. Why some and not all children in these schools? And why just 23 schools in the city which probably has over a 100 schools? Because the scheme is specifically targeted at children whose families are not guaranteed at least one square meal a day. A background check on these families has been done by Maria Seva Sangha along with the schools that they work with confirms the same.
These are schools like Indiranagar’s Maria Kirana Creche and Venkateshapuram’s Satya Seva High School – schools that were setup for children from surrounding slums with the intention of providing them with a safe childhood. These are children who would have been otherwise been left on the streets when their parents go to work. Elder children in these slums are unable to attend school as they are forced to stay at home and look after their siblings. Speak to the authorities at these schools and they’ll echo the same sentiment, “During our visits to the slums, we realized the necessity to care for these children and give them an education as education is one of the best tools to stimulate development and progress. Parents were not motivated to educate their children as it involves money and younger ones will be left alone at home.”
St. Anne’s Kannada Higher Primary School in Marienpet, Muthakapalli is another school that benefits from Maria Seva Sangha’s programme. The school is situated in a remote village, where most people live below the poverty line. Parents of the children admitted into the school are unemployed, even coolie work is not available for them; which is why parents prefer to send their kids to schools which give them things like uniforms, books and food. Meals thus become a primary attraction because they get close to nothing to eat at home. St. Euphrasia’s school, though located in the heart of the city, is no different. The children hail mostly come from the slums of L R Nagar, Neelasandra and Ejipura. Their fathers are daily wage earners and their mothers are housemaids, who find it difficult to make ends meet. Consequently, they hardly get a meal a day.
Teachers at St. Anthony’s Kannada Higher Primary School in Jayanagar’s T block say that before Maria Seva Sangha’s mid-day meal scheme, the children used to come very late to school; because they had to wait for their mothers to bring food from the houses where they were working. And lastly, at The St. Augustine’s Higher Primary School in Jageri, the programme feeds children who walk 4-6 kms a day, as they come from remote places like Kollegal Taluk, which have minimum transport facilities.
So, really, given the backgrounds these kids come from, this is more than just a meal a day!