Since the first Food for People (FFP) facility opened in Bantoli, India in 2006, The Prem Rawat Foundation’s program has expanded to provide more than fresh meals and clean water. In response to evolving local educational needs, this year the foundation is helping build 6 new classrooms to further empower people in the disadvantaged area to emerge from poverty.
Fueled by the meals at FFP, children started staying in school longer, going beyond the elementary level for the first time, with some going on to higher education. A few years ago, it became clear that they wanted computer training and English classes to help prepare for new educational and employment opportunities. So in partnership with local charity, Prem Sagar Foundation, 15 computers were purchased and a teacher was hired to offer computer literacy and English.
Students come from near and far to join the computer classes, with some walking 20 km to attend. “This is the best class,” says Dhaneswar Munda, a student. “When I compared and inquired with other students who go to nearby computer institutes, I found that, comparatively, we are learning more things than they do.”Anup Raj, one of the teachers added, “We try our best to at least teach them to write some things or be able to fill out college admission forms or bank forms, etc.”In 2021, sewing classes were offered to provide a skill that would not only allow locals to make clothes for their families, but to open a new way of earning money. An outdoor reading library also opened in 2021, becoming a popular place for villagers to learn and advance their reading skills.FFP also became the hub of a yoga and physical education camp to give local kids new opportunities to learn sports and enjoy the benefits of fitness activities. Two coaches led hundreds of children through morning yoga sessions and afternoon sports like football, volleyball and an ancient Indian tag game called Kho-Kho. Dance classes were also offered with great enthusiasm.
Following the camp, some participants came forward to spearhead an ongoing daily fitness practice under the virtual guidance of one of the coaches.Local leaders also recently identified a need for feminine hygiene education and supplies to improve health. The resulting Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Program was so appreciated that before long local schools began to request the service. To date, over 1,300 women and teenagers have participated in the program over the course of 18 workshops.Building the 6 new classrooms adjacent to the FFP facility will help to ensure that uplifting opportunities like these will continue to flourish.“Thank you so much to all of you who donate to TPRF, making these new initiatives and classrooms possible for the grateful people of Bantoli,” says Marcia Leitner, TPRF Executive Director. “It is so wonderful to see that Food for People and the local community have become such strong partners in growing prosperity and learning.”