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Tribal Indian Widows Cook to Earn

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Download India is home to one third of the worlds hungry.

Almost seven thousand people die every day because of a lack of food.

Barran, a tribal town in Rajasthan, is one of the worst affected areas.

But as Jasvinder Sehgal reports the tribal women there are creating change through a free lunch program for school children.

Rampuria is a typical Indian tribal village; high rates of illiteracy, poverty and unemployment.

In this village live widow sisters, Lalita Bai and Kanti Bai.

Lalita’s husband died when she was only 23 while Kanti lost her husband 12 years ago.

“At that time when people were dying of hunger, I and my sister also lost our husbands. But that was not the end of life. We fought to survive to feed our six children.”

But four years ago they were given work by the local NGO Akshayapatra Foundation.

Along with two hundred other women they are paid to cook lunches for the local school children.

Kanti Bai, the sister of Lalita bai is highly satisfied with her job.

“I am feeling good and comfortable today as I can feed my children along with the other children of the village. We get paid basis on the number of the students we fed. Today, we are feeding 85 children in the village. Very soon we may get LPG stoves and also save ourselves from burning biomasses.”

They take the food to the school.

It’s lunch time…

Today’s menu is Indian breads and vegetable curry.

Together with the other tribal women they feed over sixteen thousand children at more than a hundred schools in this tribal region.

Sunita Prakamya, the principal of the school, is happy with the quality of the food.

“It is nutritious too. Our students like this food very much. The lunch in school is not only attracting the students to come to school but for the some, it is their only meal for the day.”

Salim Ali use to work helping his father at a pottery kiln but now with the free lunch he comes to school.

”I will get a good job after finishing school. I will own a big house and a fleet of cars.”

Chandrashekhar Salvi, a local social activist drives me to a nearby place where the festival of light “Divali” is being celebrated by the women chefs.

”I am very happy with the development of the tribal women. Hunger and malnutrition still prevails in this tribal area but now things are changing, No more deaths due to hunger in this less privileged area.”

After feeding the students in schools, it is time for the tribal women to rejoice.

Archana Chaturvedi the Manager of the Akshayapatra Foundation is happy to be the part of the celebration.

“Once upon a time these women never got out of their homes but now they have travelled to celebrate the festival with their colleagues. Many of them are now able to read and write also. They are much more careful about their health and participate in other community development programs.”

The festival of Light “Divali” is a moment of joy for these tribal women cooks from Barran.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 25 November 2012 13:40 )  

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