Towards a hunger-free nation

 
Geetha is a young mother of two from Gundlupet, Karnataka. She got married at the age of 15, when she was studying in ninth standard. She had no idea of the care she needed when she was pregnant or the care the child needed after delivery. But now, she is happy and confident in bringing up her children, as she knows how to feed them and keep them clean. Geetha is one among many mothers whose children were benefited through the nutrition programmes of World Vision India.

Hungerfree, a three-month-long campaign by World Vision India, supports these nutrition programmes. It was launched with the aim ‘no child should go to bed hungry.’ The campaign that runs from October to December every year, provided nutritional assistance to 5000 children across ten locations in 2016.

Geetha and her husband Sureshkumar were struggling to make the ends meet from the tiny piece of land they had. Their daughter Swathi was found to be severely malnourished. World Vision India supported the family with food supplements for the child, counselling on healthy feeding and health care practices, along with a demonstration on preparing nutritious food. Swathi’s MUAC (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) showed 12 cm within five months. Now she is a pretty little girl with an arresting grin.

Laxmi Devi, another mother from Jorhat ADP, Assam says, ““My children’s appetite improved drastically. They often ask for food and inform me when they are hungry. They play with their friends and sleep well.” Her children Shivam Singh and Sumondo singh were undernourished, but were brought back to normal life with the nutritional assistance from World Vision India.

India stood at the 100th position on Global Hunger Index, 2017; 14.5 percent of our population is undernourished; 97 million children are underweight. The next figure reveals the gravity of the menace. Around 3000 children die every day in India, from poor diet related illness. The fact that, 30 crore Indians, of which nearly 11 crore children go to bed hungry every day, drives forth the Hungerfree campaign this year.

The 24-hour famine, a major event of the Hungerfree campaign, promotes awareness on the dangers of hunger and malnutrition affecting children, especially those under the age of 5. It calls people to give up food, mobile, electricity, personal transport or anything possible for 24 hours, and donate whatever they save by it to feed hungry children. The campaign also partners with schools and colleges in raising awareness about the threats of poverty and hunger, which majority of the well-off population is yet to realise.

“We could raise INR 1.09 crore through Hungerfree 24-hour famine campaign in 2016. Our target for this year is raising INR 2 crores to help 12,000 children with immediate food assistance and long term sustainable development activities,” said RG Shaiju, Specialist-Campaigns, World Vision India.

Hungerfree, in 2016, helped feeding undernourished children mainly through two initiatives of World Vision India, namely, the Food Basket Programme to help children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and UMANG (Urgent Management and Action for Nutritional Growth), a 90-day community-based feeding programme for underweight children. Around 291 children were enrolled under Food Basket Programme and 4208 under UMANG. “We were shocked when we started screening children. But now, we are happy to see them returning from the NRC (Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre). They look different; healthier and happier,” says Bhagayashree a community health worker at Khagaria ADP, Odisha.

“I see myself as a lifelong famine fighter, involved not virtually, but in reality,” said Joshua John, another volunteer at ‘know hunger ride,’ a bike riders’ event during the campaign. As hunger becomes a daily reality in India, Hungerfree, through various initiatives, champions the cause of saving those who are stuck in the vicious cycles of poverty and hunger.

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