Lessons in nutrition for rural children
You cannot go to a government school on the outskirts of Mumbai and explain to children the benefits of an avocado or a salad made from exotic fruits or vegetables. Not only is it going to be irrelevant but boring too,” says Priyesh Butani, president, RAC Dahisar Coast, RID 3141. The club’s recent initiative is helping rural schoolchildren learn the importance of a healthy diet and acquaint them with the concept of nutrition and personal hygiene.
“Some of these children come from areas where access to clean water and three meals a day is itself a big question. To ensure that these sessions were relevant and resonate with the students, we took into consideration their difficulties and understood their cultural background before designing this programme.”
During one such nutrition programme, at the village school in Mallad, near Mumbai, almost every student raised their hand when they were asked if they liked instant noodles. Why do they like noodles? “A small pack of noodles cost ₹10 or less, it can be made quickly and requires very little effort, and it tastes different they replied. But when we asked to tell us the ingredients that went into making it nobody knew the answer,” says Butani, and adds that the programme helped create awareness about chemicals in food and the risks involved in consuming food with preservatives. “We also explained what a healthy diet should include,” he adds.
On World Braille Day the members of the club hosted a radio show to discuss the history of the braille system and different technologies available for reading and writing in Braille, and how it can empower the visually-impaired.
Under Project Shines and Smiles, Rotaractors visited Pragati Andh Vidyalaya, Badlapur, and interacted with the students and conducted a yoga demonstration and good touch, bad touch awareness session. Butani and his team donated Braille blocks, speakers and chocolates to this school that houses over 50 visually-impaired students.
Through Project Paws for Cause, the club is feeding stray dogs. “Our streets are full of dogs and people usually complain about being chased or growled at. That is primarily because the street dogs are hungry. When strays are fed, they become less aggressive toward humans and other animals and feel more secure in their environment,” says the president. The club has been feeding over 30 dogs consistently with pedigree and branded dog food “that is good for their health.”
The club co-hosted a DEI talk show focusing on the problems faced by the LGBTQ community along with RCs Mumbai Dahisar, Mumbai 101, Mumbai National Park, Vasai and Inner Wheel Club of Mumbai Dahisar. A clothes distribution drive was carried out at Akaoli village, near Palghar. Over 250 villagers benefitted from the initiative. Members visited an old age home in Mumbai, spent time with the inmates and donated rice, wheat flour, different lentils, millets and digestive biscuits.
The club took into consideration the children’s difficulties and cultural background before designing the nutrition and personal hygiene programme.
With an aim to create awareness on best hygiene practices and facilities that help women and girls living in slums manage their menstruation in a proper way, the club is conducting MHM awareness drives. Butani says that “in slum areas of Mumbai, MHM awareness is crucial as many women and girls lack access to proper sanitation facilities, information, and products to manage their periods.” Multipacks of sanitary napkins were distributed to 350 underprivileged women and girls.
At a recent member-only dance night, the Rotaractors “dressed up in bright coloured traditional outfits for a Garba dance. “Hosting this dance night was a fun team-building exercise. It was a way to unite our club members and provide a social activity they will remember forever,” smiles Butani.