Uttar Pradesh Is Home To India’s First Agriculture-Based Primary School For Girls

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Ashita and Anish Nath left their comfortable jobs in the national capital and moved to a farm in Unnao village, Uttar Pradesh which is about 22 km from Lucknow, their hometown. They wanted to make a difference in people’s lives as opposed to just making money. They have two very young children who live with them on a farm in Unnao. They came to the farm like any other city dweller wanting to make a change and hoping to help farmers in distress but were very surprised to find that Indian agriculture faces greater issues.

They found that in spite of the fact that Unnao had a lot of youngsters, the village was unable to benefit from this demographic advantage. Girls were not sent to school in order to help with household chores or to take care of their siblings. This is not very different from the gender discrimination seen in many parts of our country. Girls and women in India not only fight a battle against gender bias, discrimination, lost opportunities etc., but also against mindsets which curtail their movements and harm their well-being. They found themselves on a cusp where they could not ignore this anymore.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

Education is the key

Asista believes that more than loans or start-up grants the village needs a better education system. She has been teaching for over a decade and understands child psychology better. She believes that education alone has the power to break the cycle of gender discrimination and give hope to the girls for the future along with empowering these youngsters by making more opportunities available to them and making the process of learning enjoyable as opposed to being tedious.

Different strategies in villages

Girls in villages need a different vision for themselves. A school in a village should give exceptional educational facilities, comfortable learning atmosphere for the less fortunate along with the opportunity to grow up without social pressure. While these young girls seek empathy with bonds among themselves, they also need strong female role models they can look up to so that they are equipped to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the world.

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Why agriculture in school

Asista says that before starting the school in 2016 they worked for 4 years with farmers and found that many small and marginal farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Farming is backbreaking, but their efforts are not in tandem with the income they get.  It broke their hearts to realise that farmer’s children do not want to till the land anymore. Boys are looking for better career options. Girls, on the other hand, are spending more time on the farms to help their parents. So, while boys and young men are moving to greener pastures, girls and women are left behind to care for aged parents and help out in the farm. Resulting in more time spent by women on the farms than their male counterparts.

In order to ensure that girls are abreast with latest developments in agriculture as well as have the wisdom of generations, The Good Harvest School has incorporated agriculture in its curriculum.

Why The Good Harvest School

At The Good Harvest school for girls, they are not limiting themselves to just academics. They are striving to make their environment in school, homes and neighbourhood safe. It is a 100% non-profit school which doesn’t let low fees come in the way of quality education for girls. The school is only meant for girls so that they feel safe and parents allow them to come to school. They address the issue of a mother passing the gender inequities by conducting regular parenting workshops. They also organise social gatherings such as farmer’s meet, a library for all, movie screening etc., to serve the community. Not just that, the school also hosts regular farmers’ meet, movie screenings, language class and computer classes in evenings.

The school has an open space of 30,000 sq ft is provided for students to learn about good farming practices. The students get a hands-on experience in preparing seed beds, grow a variety of saplings/seedlings in the nursery and become aware of the know-how of new-age agriculture. They are keen on developing a good facility for sports and music, open library etc., Not just students from this village but neighbouring villages will be able to access over 5,000 books from the open library. Asista says, “we are giving harvest holidays twice a year so that parents do not keep girl students at home during unscheduled breaks for harvest work or for taking care of other household chores”. Their volunteer program will bring global education standards as they will not only have regular volunteers at the school, but encourage their students to volunteer as well.

The Good Harvest School

Asista says, “parents should not pull the 12-13 old girls out of the school as it will still take another 5 years for them to be capable enough to take the class X board exams. At The Good Harvest school, we will empower these young students to be able to do well not just in math or science but also help in correcting mindsets so that these young minds can blossom.” She says that they face challenges was because a large section of village comprises of scheduled castes and the upper castes were not willing to send their daughters to school with them. She is determined to not let caste, creed and other such minor things come in the way or learning and progress.”

How can you help?

They began with 8 girl students and now have over 30 students. There are 4 teachers who give personal attention to students and provide differentiated learning so that these children actually benefit from learning. Girls from the ages of 4 to 14 attend school here. As of now, The Good Harvest School is dependent on donations and hence planning and expansion of facilities for these girls is also dependent on donations. You can help by volunteering or supporting the cause.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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