Over the last couple of years, we have seen that it is impossible to fill minds when bellies are empty. That has been the driving force behind our Nutrition Program, which is also called the Day Meal Program. Our first pilot program was launched in partnership with Kalidevi School and was started on November 2017. This program has been very successful and we have seen signs of Improved health condition of the students, higher enrollment and higher attendance in school. These results have caught the attention of other schools, local communities and parents who want to ensure the best health and educational outcomes for their children. While other schools have shown a desire to have a lunch program in their schools, the costs of running such a program and the challenges involved seems to deter them. One of our major goals of this year was to expand this program because we too have noticed the significant impacts that food can have on education, enrollment and retention. All of these have a direct impact on girls staying in and graduating from school.

Foundation Staff, Sirjana (far left) and Lalita (far right) with students of different ages.

Luckily, we found a great partner in Kalika Secondary School, which is located in Makawanpur District. The need for this type of program here is quite similar to what we saw at Kalidevi School where many students had to walk long hours (in some cases up to two hours to reach school) and often with little or no food in the morning. We are hoping to see the same successes that we saw in Kalidevi at this as school, but we know that success depends on so many things. Financial resources is the most important, but that alone does not guarantee success. The main reasons that lunch program in Kalidevi has been successful are – very dedicated and committed school team, and support of local government and community. We believe that we have a similar kind of support and commitment from the school team, local government and community in Kalika School, and we hope that means we will see similar results.

During the inauguration ceremony, the local Mayor and Ward Chairman pledged their utmost commitments and support for the program. Mayor Jiban Llama expressed his commitment, this way: “This school lies in my rural municipality. It is my duty to help the school as Mayor and also as a parent – I am committed to help this nutrition program.” Ward Chairperson Dhanbir Lama also expressed his commitment saying, “ This is really a nice program. I am very happy that this program started here. As I am one of the management committee members, guardian, as well as ward chairperson, I am always ready to support.”

Our Foundation Team was represented by Mr. Shashi Sharma, Ms. Usha Adhikari, Ms. Lalita Lamichhane and Ms. Sirjana Tamag. They were received with warm welcome by the teachers and students of the school. The program was officially inaugurated by lighting candles jointly by Mayor Jiban Lama of Indrasorabar Rural Municipality and Mr. Shashi Sharma of Rukmini Foundation.

We know that this type of program must be sustained by the community, so we are very happy to see that the local government is behind it. Kalika School has one more added advantage in that they own a larger plot of land than most schools where they can grow their own food and vegetables. This could cut the long-term costs significantly. This lunch program is scheduled to provide a healthy daily meal for all students from Nursery to Grade 10, which is over 300 students. This is the type of impact we want to see going forward. By implementing a few programs with the full support of the teachers and local community, we will be able to deliver on the various programs that the foundation has been doing well over the last 8 years. We believe that Kalika School can be a model for success, and we are ready to work closely with the entire community to make that happen.

NOTE: This report was prepared by Sirjana Tamang and Posted by Laxmi Aryal.

About Laxmi Aryal

Laxmi was the first female in her family to receive an education. While the education she received was limited, she was able to make the best of it and became the first person from her family and village to complete high school, undergraduate studies and eventually a Masters degree. She eventually earned a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Public Policy. Hers is an inspirational story that the Rukmini Foundation hopes to replicate. She serves as an inspiration for the foundation and its leadership.
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