UDAIPUR: 3 years old Payal, eagerly waits for the clock to strike 12 in the afternoon. The reason behind her eagerness is to go to the Khushi Child Care Centre for her favourite food – ‘groundnuts’.
Payal belongs to a small village in the district of Chittorgarh called Bheelo ka Jhopda. The village has only 25 homes comprising of not more than 150 people however, today, there runs a Child Care Centre of Hindustan Zinc.
Hindustan Zinc under its Khushi Project, has built a Child Care Centre in the village, for children who are below 5 years of age. This centre is running since 4 years and has nearly 21-25 children coming every day. Pinky Sharma, the teacher here, provides the children with primary education including reciting of poems in Hindi and English. Not only this, but every day, Pinky is accompanied by her 6-month old daughter, Naveena, who keenly watches her mother teach, already absorbing the treasures of knowledge from such a young age.
Previously, this village had not even seen the face of a school because there never had been any kind of Educational Institution to cater to the children here, due to which they were deprived of their very basic right – the right to basic education, health and nutrition.
Almost 1/3rd of world’s malnourished children in the world are from India alone. As stated by UNICEF, nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition, translating into the loss of about 3 million young lives a year.
Hindustan Zinc provides the children of this centre with complete nutrition through 3 meals in a day including dal, rice, roti & one vegetable. Every day these children leave for their homes with their little fists filled with chickpeas and groundnuts. This is the ultimate happiness and satisfaction for these children.
The centre currently has a coordinator named Sunita, assigned by Hindustan Zinc, who is responsible for the entire administration. Sunita is also assisted by a caretaker, who takes care of all the daily routines of these children from food to hygiene. The centre has also constantly seen improving attendance of students since the beginning along with improving health & hygiene of the children. Few of the children have even moved to the government school outside the village to pursue further education.
The smile on the faces of these children as they recite poems is mesmerizing. Because of this initiative by Hindustan Zinc, while their parents graze goats and are involved in agricultural activities, these children are learning their way to contribute to the future.