In 10th grade, my perspective on things around the world changed after joining Akshaya Patra. I came to learn of this organization through multiple friends who were in it, and I was amazed by its mission, Unlimited food for education. For me, I had always taken the food that was served to me for granted; however, my outlook changed when I heard about many children in India who couldn’t go to school due to a lack of food. The fact that these children had to work to eat their meals every day instead of going to school to receive an education motivated me to help make a change and become a part of Akshaya Patra to make a difference in the lives of these children.
Participating in different volunteering events, we hoped to make a change and raise money to donate to Akshaya Patra in India to provide mid-day meals for the children, so that they could go to school. For the past few years, one of our activities has consisted of helping to package foods at the North Texas Food Bank and thus provide meals to impoverished people in the community. Becoming treasurer and then secretary, I hoped to become more involved in helping my local community and raising money to give the opportunity to students in India to go to school.
Wanting to understand how my efforts helped students in India, I traveled to Bangalore, India this past summer and visited an Akshaya Patra kitchen and a local government school. I observed how 200 workers at the kitchen began to prepare sambar and rice for 100,000 school kids at 2:00 am. Delivering this food to the local schools around the kitchen at 9:00 am, they then began to work on preparing food for the next day. I was amazed by the dedication and love that each of the workers put into making the food for these school children. After observing the kitchen, I went to one school to where the food was distributed. I was shocked upon seeing the school as it was in stark contrast to schools in the U.S. It was a school with no desks, and each student would sit on the ground and learn. Their playground consisted of just one slide that went from the second story to the first. At lunchtime, all the students sat on the dirt in the center of their school, which was their cafeteria, eating their food happily with flies swarming around them. They were appreciative of the food that they ate despite it being the same meal every day, and these kids were often happier than students in the U.S. as these meals were what allowed them to go to school and receive an education.
Joining Akshaya Patra, I hoped to help this organization in raising money to provide students in India with mid-day meals. After seeing the workers diligently making food and how delighted the students were to receive these warm meals to eat, I was further motivated to continue to support these kids by becoming more involved. I have always wanted to help these students after hearing about Akshaya Patra’s mission, but after I saw how our efforts changed these kids’ lives, I was touched and inspired. I hope that we can strive to achieve our goal of feeding 5 million children by the year 2020.