Building the nation through nutrition

Imagine a day without breakfast. Now imagine the next day too without one. And the next day as well and the next…for the whole year or beyond!

Now imagine yourself to be just a six-year-old. And now to have grown a year older to seven, then eight, and then nine, ten, eleven, and so on…for a few years and beyond! All through without breakfast!

Now imagine yourself squatting on a bare cold cracked floor under a dilapidated roof, your backbone bent like a hair pin over a broken slate with a squeaky chalk or a stained disintegrating note book with pages falling apart, and just one or two text books severely soiled by the use of several in the class!

Now imagine many like you all around, deprived, disadvantage, disowned with barely any food in the stomach let alone the facilities in the school!

That’s most of the rural education in India for you!

And that was the childhood of  Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba too. But instead of simply being a mute spectator to the sad state of students, He  decided to do something about it. Having born in a poor family, in the remotest rural part of the arid Anantapur of Andhra Pradesh, having experienced hunger, thirst and poverty all through His childhood, He chose to be the change that He wanted to see.

All His life He worked to bring equality and justice to children through education, health and nutrition, free-of-cost. Eight decades of His physical sojourn bears testimony to His indefatigable urge to bring light, love and laughter to millions.

Even after shedding His mortal encumbrances, His spirit of service lives on and loves on, manifesting as education to the illiterate, health to the sick and food to the hungry.

Post His physical demise, apart from setting up 21 free educational institutions across eight districts of Karnataka, one free paediatric cardiac care hospital in central India, He embarked on yet another life giving and man making initiative of – “Annapoorna- Breakfast for all!”

Four years ago, what started as a service to a slum in South Bangalore by providing the most important meal for the day, to the growing assets of the nation, it’s children, has today expanded and spread its wings to embrace more than 8000 children across 120 centres in Karnataka, and other states around India.

8000 hungry tiny bellies now belch with bliss at the crack of dawn, as they look forward to yet another day of learning without pangs of hunger in there little stomachs. “Attendance at school has gone up, students are more attentive, healthy and energetic”,  are some observations made by happy parents and teachers. And the gleaming grins on the young faces all around say it all, without speaking a word.

The morning school bell is a music to their ears for that brings the good tidings of a sumptuous, nutritious and balanced breakfast too.

Here is a glimpse of Sathya Sai “Annapoorna – Breakfast for all” – an initiative by the volunteers of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Breakfast is the most important meal, especially for growing children. But not all children in our cities and villages are able to afford one. Studies show that children who do not eat breakfast become tired in school and have shorter attention spans, leading to poor physical and mental development.

With Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Sankalpa and guidance in His subtle form, ‘Breakfast Seva initiative’ has been undertaken by young Sai brothers and sisters of South Bangalore, serving free & nutritious breakfast to the under privileged school going children of Dodbelle, since July 2012.

As guided by our beloved Swami –  This seva is conducted on all school working days. Every morning the seva starts with a short prayer by the students wherein they sing a couple of devotional songs (Sai Bhajans) and chant the food prayer ” Brahmarpanam”, followed by serving of breakfast like Idli-Sambar, Rice bath-Chutney, Chapathi-Kurma, Fruit and Milk and the likes. In addition, the volunteers also conduct Medical Camps, Bal Vikas classes, Veda Teaching classes and undertake distribution of food, clothes and stationery.

Our compassionate Lord continued to guide further and eventually directed the team to roll out the project at a much larger scale, across various schools in Rural India. He named the project ‘Sai Annapoorna’ and put together the Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna Trust with the mandate of Grama Udharana and Grama Parivartana – Rural Upliftment and Rural Transformation, focusing on Vidhya ( Education) Vaidhya ( Health) , Vidhyut ( Electricity) and Vaari ( Drinking Water).

Over the last four years:

1. 25 students from these villages have been successfully enrolled across schools run by the SSS Saraswathi Education Trust, an initiative of alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, providing completely free education to all the students.

2. On the auspicious occasion of Bhagawan’s 89th Birthday in November 2014, a newly constructed Community Hall named by Bhagawan as “Sri Sathya Sai Sevaamrutham” was inaugurated at the Doddabele Village for conducting daily breakfast seva and other spiritual seva activities.

3. A visible transformation is observed among the students and their families as they have improved in their devotion, behaviour and hygiene.

4. Teams from across Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Kolkata and other cities have taken lessons from the Dodbelle Breakfast seva project and started similar breakfast seva centers at their locations as well.

5. Health Screening  and Dental checkups were conducted for close to 1000 children.

“I don’t have a body now. So I want the children to experience My Love through you.”

While Swami guided the team in detail on execution, His Guidance on the softer aspects of the seva is crucial to note. He constantly reminded the team members that they must allow His Divine Love to flow through them to the children, allowing them to experience His love through their actions.

“You are taking care of my children. Think of them as your children and love them the way you love your children. There should be no difference.”

In His loving and very experiential way, Swami has provided all the team members and volunteers associated with this project, a practical opportunity to live His advice – “Love without Duty is Divine” – as they go about serving breakfast lovingly to students across the country.

More details:

www.Saiannapoorna.org

https://www.facebook.com/srisathyasaisevaamrutham/

Come, join us in feeding the future of this nation!

“There are many school going children who do not have proper breakfast in the morning. With an empty stomach how can they study? Children are the next generation youth and it is our responsibility to nurture them right from the very beginning. Children who either cannot afford or are not being served breakfast at home, should not go hungry to the school as it is detrimental to their physical and mental health.” – Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba