“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” — Christopher Reeve.

When we tread the lows in life, when nothing seems to be working in our favour, and when we talk about giving up; we are often told, ‘it’s not over yet, there’s still hope’. Call it an advice or a perspective to look at an issue, the word ‘hope’ does have a big role to play in rearranging our thought process to make it more positive. By definition, ‘hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large’. So, is hope an innate tendency or can it be created too?

A medium of hope

Hope exists in abundance. For some of us it has become a way of life out of self-realisation and for some others it needs to be instilled which means hope can be created! And, today we will see how an organisation is creating hopes in the hearts of young children, every single day. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO for children headquartered in Bengaluru, India. Every morning this NGO prepares more than 17.6-lakh nutrition-rich meals, packs it in insulated vessels, loads it in custom-designed distribution vehicles, and delivers it to children studying government schools located in 38 locations of 12 states. And, they do this on each and every school day!

The purpose of serving freshly cooked nutritious meals to children is not just to feed hungry stomachs, it is to feed the hidden hopes in these children! The children of government and government-aided schools mainly hail from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The degree of hardships they face cannot even be imagined by most of us. It was observed that for most of these children, the school meal is the only meal they get to eat for the whole day. Most of the parents choose to send their children to school not for education but for the food that gets served. In a scenario like this, do you think there is a place for hope? Yes, there is — here the meal creates hope!

By providing regular meals to children, Akshaya Patra aims to nourish their bodies with nutrition and nurture their minds with education. And, when the body and mind is healthy, children begin to think beyond food, explore beyond food, and desire beyond food. Children start to aspire, they start to dream of a better future, they gain confidence of achieving whatever they have aimed for — they become hopeful!

Akshaya Patra’s success in spreading hope

Akshaya Patra’s success lies in the success of its beneficiary children. This NGO for children has been spreading hope among children through food since 2000. Aside from providing regular school meals, the Foundation launched ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’ initiative in 2016. Since then it has been providing mentorship and training to beneficiary children to hone their talents in various fields such as Culinary, Dance, Theatre, Origami, Math, Science, Astronomy, English, and Football and more in partnership with professionals and organisations. By far, more than 300 beneficiaries from 15 Government Schools in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Hyderabad, and Vrindavan have been benefitted with this initiative, and the NGO aims to reach out to more children in the near future. Here are the snippets of the first three beneficiaries: Shivu, Manjula, and Shekar — who received mentorship under professionals in the field of their choice.

These were just three of the millions of hope stories that this NGO has to share. There are many more such stories that testify the power of food, education, and hope. Hope Stories of Children will introduce you to the amount of hopes that dwell in the small hearts — of which some has been discovered, and many are yet to be revealed!

There is no end to hope

As Samuel Smiles beautifully expresses, “Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles”, we all can become the companion and source of success for millions of young children. We all can instil in them that they can create miracles by believing in themselves. We all can provide them with food and education and assure them to ‘Hope for the best and it shall manifest’. Let us not postpone it till tomorrow, let us begin the ripple effect of hope, starting today!

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India for children provides mid-day meals for 1.7 million children across 12 states. https://www.akshayapatra.org/