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NURTURING THE NEXT PT USHA: The story of Archana from Lucknow

The Akshaya Patra mid-day meals saved my life and allowed me the opportunity to pursue my dreams as an athlete.” – Archana12-year-old Archana is a star in her school. Her excellence in athletics has earned her huge respect from her peer groups. The awards and ranks she has brought by competing in state level championships have not only made her mother Lajjavati proud, but in fact the entire Upper Primary School Salempur Pataura, Kakori staff today basks in the glory of her achievements.

Salempur Pataura Kakori is a small town and also a Nagar Panchayat in the district of Lucknow. As the term Nagar Panchayat suggests, the area is mostly in a transformative state from rural to urban with infrastructures growing in its own pace. Archana, who studies in the local Upper Primary School, hails from the same village with her house located around 3 kilometers away. The small bicycle she owns helps her ride the distance making it the happiest time during the day.

Archana’s mother is an extremely hard working lady who serves as a daily wage earner to make ends meet. After the death of Archana’s father Munna, sustaining a family of three has not been easy to her. Archana too has been a party to the struggle, often having to skip meals to offer more to her little brother. This was slowly making her mal-nourished and unhealthy.

But now things are different. Archana gets a full meal every day in school and simply loves the kheer and tahari offered to her in lunch. With steadily improving nourishment levels, she has grown stronger and is now able to pursue her dreams of becoming a champion athlete. Not only was she ranked 1st in the state level long jump championship held in Lucknow, but she has also received similar rankings in the state level 200 meters and 50 meters race. She says, “The Akshaya Patra mid-day meals have saved my life. They have allowed me the scope to pursue my dreams as an athlete without putting any extra burdens on my already struggling mother. The energy that I felt lacking in me during my earlier days of school no longer exists. I feel stronger now which makes it easier for me not only to focus better at studies but also to perform better on the playgrounds.”

We feel lucky to have come across young stars like Archana and pray that all her dreams come true.

Akshaya Patra runs the world’s largest NGO-Run Mid-Day Meal Programme, serving wholesome school lunch to over 1.7 Million children in 14,173 Schools across 12 States in India.

To find out more about the NGO, visit: https://www.akshayapatra.org

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