Early last year,California-based Ayala High School students Rutvik Kadkol and Bryan Milligan joined hands to work for a social cause. After touching upon different topics and months of research on the subjects on the Internet,the duo finally decided to address the issue of malnutrition in India.
In February this year,they launched a Facebook page AFA: Help Us Feed Undernourished- Feed the Village,One Child at a Time. The page highlighted the issue of lakhs of Severely Acutely Malnourished (SAM) children in Maharashtra and appealed to page visitors to donate for the cause.
In three months,both 17 year olds managed to raise Rs 1 lakh and donated the amount to a local NGO Development Initiative for Self Help and Awareness (DISHA). The donation was used to provide healthy nutritious food,immunisation,parental education,conducting health drives and social awareness programmes for malnourished children and their families.
The duo were recently in the city to work on a documentary on malnutrition shot in villages around Kamshet. Kadkol and Milligan along with DISHA volunteers have been visiting families with SAM children besides teachers,doctors and anganwadi volunteers. They also met the sarpanch of Kamshet and local health officials to take stock of the situation.
The health officials said many parents skip the medications prescribed by them thinking they might harm their children. But the reality is that these medicines are just vitamin supplements. Lack of awareness is the major cause of malnutrition amongst children, said Kadkol,whose maternal and paternal grandparents stay in Pune.
The documentary is around an hour long. The only challenge was that some of the parents were not comfortable getting filmed. So we just let them be and move on to the next family, said Kadkol,adding they plan to screen the documentary in their school by October-end. They plan to spread awareness about the cause among American citizens and raise funds for it. We will do the editing work of the documentary in California which should be completed by August, said Kadkol.