BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Apart from devoting their time to academics, a group of likeminded students from the first BASS batch (now in their second year of Graduation) of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur campus have formulated a scheme named ‘Skip A Meal’ (SAM), an independent students’ initiative.
The aim of Skip A Meal as initially envisioned was to skip one meal, every week, and feed those in need of food in the village of Tuljapur. “We zeroed in on two orphanages/child care centers, Tuljabhavani School and Tuljai Balgrah, in Tuljapur, with a total strength of around 150 children, ranging from grades Nursery to 10th”, said one of the students.
Some of the children are orphans, some have been abandoned and others are such that their parents cannot afford to provide them with adequate nourishment. Most of them suffer from serious family problems, which no doubt affects their psyche. In such an atmosphere at home and not much change in the orphanage, where the teachers are known to beat up the children, or where the health care facilities are so dismal as to not even have a thermometer or basic medicines, the volunteers hope to provide a healthy, happy and friendly atmosphere to the children.
“The children, all 150 of them, eagerly await the arrival of the TISS bus, not so much for the food, which they get even otherwise, but more so for the company that we are fortunately able to provide them”, says one of the students.
Since the past one year, therefore, this team has been diligently working towards motivating enough people in the campus to skip their meals for the children. Currently, on an average, around 100 out of 195 students skip their meals, and 20 regular volunteers take the food to the children.
The goals of the initiative have expanded over the past year, as our volunteer base has increased due to the induction of the new BASS batch in 2013, from just distributing food to also focusing on building a strong academic base by imparting education, particularly English and Mathematics.
The members of SkipAMeal have been divided into three major committees namely Education Committee, Activities Committee and Food Committee. One of the motives of teaching them is also to inspire and motivate them to do better in life, to alleviate their conditions and aspire to become professionals or at the very least to be able to do what they want.
Giving them a tour of the campus, especially the library and the computer center, was done primarily so that they get the required exposure and to realistically be able to dream of pursuing higher education. Thus, food is just a source for us to bond with them.
Therefore the same volunteers are requested to make regular visits for at least three months at a stretch, so that a basic level of comfort and communication is established between thechildren and the volunteers.
After three months, a new set of volunteers can be recruited to teach and play with the students. The Activities Committee helps in organizing informative games and art and crafts projects for the students.
Some volunteers are also involved personally with the children, solving issues close to their hearts or just lending an ear, for them to vent out their feelings.
The students thus make an appeal to the rest of the students and administration for greater participation, either by skipping lunch every Saturday, or by volunteering to visit the children, or any other help one can provide.