Aarti Home in India runs a school called Aarti EM School. Most of the students in this school come from backgrounds where there is no literacy and an even larger percentage come from households that are very poor. This means that they do not regularly get access to nutritious food with all the requirements for growth. As a result, many of these children are left stunted in their growth. Three years ago, Aarti school started a program called the ‘Family-based Caring’. As a part of this, they were given a nutritious breakfast, lunch and evening snack 6 days of the week. This was introduced because we noticed the types of food the students were eating. They could not afford very nutritious or filling food.
During this pandemic, schools were closed in March. In this time, Aarti for girls distributed 10000 COVID-19 Relief packages, with sanitation supplies and some dry rations. This was distributed throughout the district for migrant labourers and daily wage workers. We provided much needed supplies to those who most needed it. Unfortunately, due to our shortage of resources, we could not reach everyone. Out of the many we could not help, there were local workers, like shopkeepers, farmers, construction workers, and many of the families of our Aarti school students.
Now, as a part of the unlocking phase 1, the government in Andhra Pradesh has given permission for schools and other educational institutions to open one day a week. We are using this opportunity to distribute worksheets and other work for the upcoming week. On the first day, we noticed that the children were significantly less healthy than earlier, and we realised that it was because they were not getting the usual nutritious food that they used to receive when they were coming to school.
Being here in kadapa, we could see the effects of the lockdown in full detail. I’ve had the privilege, as the grandson of the founder, to know these people for my whole childhood, and it was disheartening seeing them in such bad shape. I had shared so much knowledge with them, and learnt so many things from them, and yet one could see the stark difference between them and someone like me. It was extremely heart-breaking to see these friends of mine suffering and starving. They looked like they hadn’t eaten for weeks, and it was probably true too, as their families lived on day to day wages. I felt this need deep down to help them and make their lives better.
We decided to supplement their nutrition by giving provisions, like ragi malt powder, eggs or even fruits with their worksheets. This addition to their diets helps them become healthier, and slowly get back to normal, non-stunted growth.
As children, let us all raise funds to give dry provisions and sanitation essentials for the student and their family. Four packets, consisting of various dry rations, costs Rs. 300 – $4. As there are 632 students in the school, the total I would need to raise comes to Rs. 189,600.
How to donate – Visit www.aartiforgirls.org/donate, and use the donate button on the right side to donate how much ever you can. It accepts credit card, debit card, bank transfer, and any UPI payment method.
If you would like to do more, you can feed a five member family for one month for Rs. 1885 – $25.
Inputs from Abhiram Rachamadugu, Grandson of Sandhya Puchalapalli, Founder, Aarti for Girls