South Asia told to fight dire toddler malnutrition

Reuters AlertNet written by Nita Bhalla

A woman holds her malnourished granddaughter in this file photo taken in Mumbai July 25, 2007.REUTERS/Sima Dubey
A woman holds her malnourished granddaughter in this file photo taken in Mumbai July 25, 2007.REUTERS/Sima Dubey

NEW DELHI (AlertNet) – South Asian nations must promote breastfeeding and focus on better nutrition for under two-year-olds in order to reverse the worst rates of chronically undernourished children in the world, the U.N. said on Wednesday.

According to a new report by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than half of the world’s 155 million chronically undernourished under fives are in South Asia.

The report, “Improving Child and Maternal Nutrition”, said Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan topped the list with 83 million children being fed enough or poorly fed in those five countries.

Daniel Toole, regional director for UNICEF South Asia, said in an interview traditional beliefs and practices as well as the shortage of protein-rich food for infants were mostly to blame.

“Low birth weight babies from young mothers who are forced into early marriages, women who do not exclusively breastfeed and a poor choice of food given to children from the age of six months are all factors,” said Toole by phone from Kathmandu. Continue reading…

India still home to largest illiterate population

Mobile School for Sundel selling Children at Marina Beach by Chennai Corporation scheme Education for all Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Photo S. Thanthoni
Mobile School for Sundel selling Children at Marina Beach by Chennai Corporation scheme Education for all Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Photo S. Thanthoni

The Hindu: India still has the largest number of illiterate adults in the world, but has made “rapid advances” in cutting down the numbers of school drop outs, a new UN report on education has said.

The Education For All-Global Monitoring Report, released here on Wednesday finds that out of the total 759 million illiterate adults in the world, India still has the highest number.

“Over half of the illiterate adults live in just four countries: Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan,” the report said, adding the progress has been “painfully slow” and threatens to obstruct the Millennium Development Goals.

It said about 72 million primary school age children and another 71 million adolescents are not at school, and on current trends, 56 million primary school age children will still be out of school in 2015, it said.

UNESCO’s top official Irina Bokova said the world body was apprehensive that the financial crisis would cause governments to scale back funding on education.

“With the world’s largest illiterate population, India has been making progress,” the report said. Continue reading…

Thank you Lisa & Phillip, Donna & Debbie

Lisa and Phillip, thank you for supporting our art classes, Pankaj’s Dream! Lisa and Phillip, thank you for supporting our art classes, Pankaj’s Dream! Without you, we would not have been able to continue them. Your gift was a godsend to us, and we are grateful for it!

Thank you Donna for the blankets To our angel Donna Peter, our most heartfelt thank you for your recent extra support that provided blankets to our students and their families. This winter has been especially cold, and your blankets helped to keep the children warm. Thank you for your ongoing support from the bottom of our hearts!

Thank you  Debbie for helping Munna, a boy we love dearly Dear Debbie, thank you for your kind contribution that allowed us to buy warm clothes for Munna, a boy we love dearly, and who desperately needed them. You can see he is so happy to have his warm clothes! Your donation will also allow us to fix Munna’s family’s water pump, bringing water back to their house.

Not just school, an appreciation for learning

What a surprise. When the teachers visited the Bengali refugee community that collects and sorts garbage, they found lower-kindergartener Kumkum reading a book! When asked where she got it from, Kukum explained how she found it in the garbage she was collecting with her mom. Instead of putting it in with the other paper, Kumkum cleaned it off and put it safely in her bag.

This seemingly small act, done by a small child, shows how deep the changes are in the community. And the book she found looks like it’s in great condition!

Kumkum's book
Before coming to school, most kids didn’t realize the value of books.

In fond memory of Pankaj

We were given a shock in August when we learned that our 13-year-old middle school student Pankaj had been found dead in a sewer. We learned that Pankaj had witnessed a rape in his community and had been killed because he threatened to speak up about what he saw.

Pankaj was an extraordinary and curious student who loved to draw and dreamt of becoming an artist. A bright and optimistic dreamer, Pankaj said that his plan was to become an artist, makes lots of money by selling his works, and start schools all over the country called Buddha’s Smile School. This spirit will be with all of us.

In honor of Pankaj, BSS started an art class in October called Pankaj’s Dream
In honor of Pankaj, BSS started an art class in October called Pankaj’s Dream

“We all group of BSS pray for his soul rest in peace always. Pankaj your sweet memories and love is always memorable in our heart deeply.You are always in our thoughts. Your DREAM will be positively filled by the children of BSS (Your brothers, sisters and friends) We all miss you everyday.”

In honor of Pankaj, BSS started an art class in October called “Pankaj’s Dream” to allow more students to realize their creative powers. We hope that one day many students will become like Pankaj and Pankaj’s soul will feel at peace.

Activities Update January 2010

4th grade BSS students learn electronics
4th grade students learn electronics with BSS Prinicpal Jagdish
  • BSS students learn how to swim: Swim India visited BSS this month to teach water safety. In August, they will bring BSS students to the pool!
  • 4th and 5th grade students helped out at the Ganga Clean-Up event
  • 4th grade students learn electronics: Prinicpal Jagdish is teaching students how to make FM radios and other small gadgets

Rajan Kaur receives a special award from HH Dalai Lama

Rajan with HH Dalai Lama
In April, Rajan traveled with her family to San Francisco to receive the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award from Wisdom in Action, a California-based nonprofit. HH Dalai Lama was the honored guest at a reception of 500 people who came to pay respect to the 49 awardees.

As supporters and friends, we all know how incredible Rajan is. And now HH Dalai Lama has also acknowledged her—not in Sarnath where he sometimes passes right in front of BSS—but all the way in California!

In April, Rajan traveled with her family to San Francisco to receive the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award from Wisdom in Action, a California-based nonprofit. HH Dalai Lama was the honored guest at a reception of 500 people who came to pay respect to the 49 awardees. These amazing people were selected because “they have set the course of their hearts toward truth and love. In doing so, they have become beacons, lanterns, mentors, inspirations and exemplars for us all. “

HH Dalai Lama reminded the audience that just as these 49 people were doing extraordinary work, we can all do something, and we can start right now. We may not reap the fruits in our lifetimes, but we can choose to work from the heart and contribute to making and being the change we all know the world needs.

Since returning from the ceremony, Rajan says that she has never felt more peaceful. She feels that she has even more strength and energy to teach and inspire her BSS children. With the size of the task she has taken on, we know she will use this fresh vigor well.

Our deepest congratulations to you, Rajan!

Thank you Prof. Jim Duerlinger

Thank you so much Jim for your kind donation. We used your lovely gift to buy shoes and socks for 220 bare footed children — the children now look so smart and wealthy.

The new shoes and socks were distributed before 26th of January (REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS). Some of the small children were not able to walk because they have never worn shoes and since this was their first time, they were feeling uncomfortable — but now they are habituated.

My hearty thanks with endless love to our Dear Friend Prof. Jim Duerlinger. (Last year Jim sponsored warm woollen sweaters for all the children.)

Again, thank you so much for all your kindness!!

With much love always!! Rajan

Tiny Gurus : Poems for Peace

Tiny Gurus

by Lauri Hoffman Bunting
Founder, Poems for Peace
www.poemsforpeace.org

Tiny urchins of the street
Miniature gurus of love
With little fingers pry away
The hard encasement of my heart

Gentle gazes deeply probe
And tap a warm nectar
Intoxication of the soul

Their essence, the anchor
And the wind that let’s me soar
Tiny gurus of Earth and sky
Teach me how
To walk and fly

Immersed in the moment
Allowing each to roll away
Their presence wipes away the past
Deflects thoughts of future days

My camera clicks incessantly
Visual cues for the memory
Chronicles of a cherished day

Concentrated package
Essence of joy and love
Wrapped in a blanket of charcoal skin
Melting chocolate irises
Rejoice with ink-drop pupils
Arking ebony eyelashes
Point skywards

Click

A stoic look, a frozen face
A camera-ready pose

Click, click

Shattered by a belly-full of giggles,
Pinched cheeks
And a row of glistening ivory

Click

Arms embrace
Guru clusters grow
Radiant eyes pierce through darkness
As stars alight the night sky

Click

Baby gurus swarm around
Eager to see what the camera found
Tiny fingers point as faces appear
Staccato squeals of foreign names
A melody of glee
A soft tap tapping of my heart
Melting boundaries

Little gurus of the street
Teachers of the heart
Why are you filled with such joy?
You’re forced to beg
You’re beaten
Victims of father’s drunken rage
You know not of fluffy quilts,
Fuzzy slippers, bed-time-stories
Ice-cream cones, warm snuggles,
Merry-go-rounds and roasted marshmallows

You trust
You love
You graciously receive
You trust

You are not seekers
But the bearers of truth
You fear not raging wind and rain
You are the keepers of the flame
Tiny gurus of the street
Epitome of love
I’m honored to spend this time with you
A gift from up above

Last spring, Buddha Smile School received an invitation for their students to participate in an international poetry exchange called Poems for Peace founded by Lauri Hoffman Bunting, Idaho, USA. In March, 2009, Lauri visited Buddha’s Smile School and was inspired by the children to write “Tiny Gurus.” The student’s poems may be viewed at www.poemsforpeace.org.