Oru Paanai – Feeding hungry children in Sri Lanka
“Oru Panaai” is a well known Tamil expression and means one pot in English. Oru Panaai (UK) was established in 2008 as a voluntary humanitarian response to appeals made by heads of rural schools in the Jaffna peninsula of Sri Lanka. They reported to us the poverty and starvation of the poor children who attended their schools.
Escalating food prices and scarcity in Sri Lanka and the Jaffna peninsula have caused severe food shortage. For the first time in recent history the children and the elderly in Jaffna are facing hunger and malnourishment, if not starvation. The elderly are dependent on their children. Some are destitute and depend on the benevolence of the temple and alms. The state handout is 100 rupees a month and rations of rice, lentils flour and sugar. This is hardly sufficient for a week or two.
Children are growing up with poor weight and stature. After weaning, infants fall off the weight percentile charts maintained meticulously by the Child Health Workers. Principals have reported that children attend school without breakfast and that some older teenagers faint during the day.
The aim of ‘Oru Paanai’ is to share the resources that we have and help feed the hungry school children in Jaffna in the first instance. Having done so, we hope to replicate the project in the rest of Sri Lanka to help feed hungry children.
The schools provide a mid day meal of Rice and lentils. This is funded by the World Food programme [WFP] via the Government Agent of Jaffna. The mid day meal is provided for children between the ages of 5 and 15. Students of the O- level and A-level classes are not given the mid day meal. There is no funding for vegetables and the schools have to raise the funds from parents. The schools that attract children from poor communities are unable to raise these extra funds to buy vegetables.
By supplementing the resource provided by the WFP we could provide a wholesome mid day meal for all the children of the school including those senior students in Year 10 and above. If you would like to support Oru Paanai or find out more then please click here.
Thanks must go to Prof Swaminathan and Oru Paanai for providing me with the information on this page.