Great dreams in little packages
Sound explodes in the air as children scramble around the playground of the Government Higher Primary School at Chikkalsandra, Bangalore. Excited faces laugh with glee as the mid-day meal is served. They wait eagerly to be photographed and to share their thoughts. It is impossible to not be charmed by their innocence and sheer joy for living.
Amidst the chaos, young Dinesh (left) from the second grade and Manu (right) from the first grade interact with us with great enthusiasm. Having just polished off their mid-day meal provided by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, they are raring to answer our questions.
Dinesh and Manu both come from low income families that work hard to make ends meet. Dinesh's father works in the garments industry while his mother is a homemaker. Dinesh and his sister both attend the GHPS government school and are beneficiaries of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme. When asked about his ambition, with a sparkle in his eyes he answers without a moment's hesitation, "I want to be an engineer."
Manu's father is a daily wage labourer while his mother is a tailor. He too has a sibling, an older brother in the second grade at the school, who is also a beneficiary of the mid-day meal programme. Manu, not to be outdone by Dinesh, says his ambition is to be a doctor.
Both these friends share similar taste in food it appears. Dinesh says he enjoys the food provided in the mid-day meal, and when asked what their favorite is, they reply in unison, "Puliogare!" But is that what they love most about school? No, they say, they love to come to school because they want to study. Now doesn't that make you proud of these young men?
Mr. SS Rajamouli and Mr. Shobu Yarlagadda on a tour of our kitchen in Narsingi, Hyderabad on December 11