Kindness Unlimited
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Kindness Unlimited

Project Nashta — A Sustainable Nutritional Programme

It was April 2020 — the streets of Mumbai were empty, the pandemic was at its peak, and we went Go Bananas! That’s when the importance of nutrition for kids came to us. We immediately partnered with multiple organisations in Mumbai to provide additional nutrition for vulnerable children

Welcome to Project Nashta!

A KU volunteer distributing Bananas to the street children of Mumbai

Soon enough we realised the tribal areas were badly affected with less support reaching the interior areas of Maharashtra. In February 2021, we were in Roha (a Taluk in Raigad district of Maharashtra). Our local community partner informed us about the Katkari Tribe, a community that has been ostracized socially and economically since the British Era. What got us moving was the health status of the children and pregnant women in the area. More than 30% of the children in the area reported malnourished from 2016–2020 and, that 100% of the Katkari community is Below Poverty Line (BPL).

Why is the rate of malnourishment so high in the area? We pondered upon the question for weeks and did a ethnographic study to find out the answer. Domino effect of socio-economic conditions lead to child marriage further leading to malnourished childbirth. We had reached our conclusion! Project Nashta must begin here and it needs to be best suited for the community.

A photo from the initial health study conducted by the volunteers

At Kindness Unlimited, we believe in undertaking projects that are -

  1. Kind to self
  2. Kind to others
  3. Kind to the environment

To create a project with kindness embedded in every process, it demands us to think out of the box and get out of our comfort zones.

The next question was what do we provide and how do we do that?

Procurement of Eggs for Distribution

We asked our community partner to help us identify 70 children in the area who are severely undernourished and start a pilot programme and it went live! This included studying the diet of the child and the nutritional supplement that is part of their food chain. We identified Nachni (generally known as Ragi) a millet to be a local alterative with a high nutritional value and is consumed locally. To balance the protein intake we looked at Rice and Moong along with boiled eggs.

Sprouted Nachni ready to dry and powdered

The community welcomed the ingredients. The women of the community suggested that we sprout, dry, roast and grind the ingredients to make a powder of the same. They could now have the kids consume the same in multiple ways — dosa, bhakri, ladoos or even with a glass of water. There you go! Our local protein shake was ready!

But wait, lets add kindness to the process:

  1. Nachni / Raggi is grown locally, hence we asked the community to grow more of it and we would buy it from them.
  2. They were encouraged to use vermicompost and reduce dependence on pesticides and we in turn would buy the nachni at a price higher than the market rate.
  3. The moong and Nachni were sprouted before being roasted and then powdered . This enhanced the nutritional benefits of the powder. That was ingenious and we decided to have the locals fully involved in the process. Afterall, it is their knowledge and none better than them to execute and oversee the process.
  4. Now the women had a part-time job as we paid them for their labour and effort while helping the children of the area.
  5. The Nachni was one powder while rice and moong powder along the Jeera/Cumin — to neutralize the acidity would be a separate powder. We now had two nutritional supplements to address the malnourishment needs of the children in the area.
  6. One Kilogram of each of the powders were packed and directly sent to the homes of these children once a month.
  7. Eggs were sent to the local village sevika where it was boiled and given to the child directly four times a week.
  8. Long story short! — This worked.

A heartfelt gratitude and thanks to Snehavardhini Social Trust at Roha — our kind and committed community based partner for supporting us with all the ground level research and accepting us as a collaborator. This collaboration was the key to get the project off the ground and running.

Roasting Rice , Moong and Cumin Seeds

We started our pilot in April 2021 and by October 2021 we had a CSR funding from ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions Private Limited to support the project. We currently have 516 children under the programme from 23 Katkari villages in Roha. We hope to expand the scope as we keep innovating and identifying more children in the area.

Mixing of Rice — Moong and Cumin seeds

The next thing was how to reduce the dependency on KU for supplementing their nutritional needs. The best option was to supplement the nutrition of pregnant women and lactating mothers that was initiated and a longer term solution was having an additional source of nutrition at their doorstep, while providing livelihood and greening the area. There was land where the Adivasi community grew rice/Nachni and with their nod of approval we helped plant fruit trees. The fruit trees would grow in the next 4/5 years providing for the families who now owned them.

The Women of the village packing the powders

That’s how Project Plant Kindness happened.

Distribution of the packed powder in a village

Wait for the next blog to read about the project! Afterall, kindness is sustainable and all sustainable things are kind!

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