Diet and nutrition are critical factors in the health and growth of a child. Children require lots of nutrients to help their bodies develop all the necessary functions and tissues they need, and the quality (or lack thereof) of these nutrients can significantly impact health. A child’s diet can influence everything from basic brain function to behavioral patterns. While many societal problems are being addressed around the globe, the levels of malnutrition are still highly alarming. About 10% of the world’s population faces undernutrition and this problem is accentuated in the Indian context where over 38.4% of children under 5 are plagued with undernutrition.
Observing how this devastating problem impacted his community, Om Sharma, a twelfth grader in The International School Bangalore, decided to drive change. He founded an NGO called ‘Project Aahaar’ targeted to teach poor children the essentials of nutrition and the steps they can take to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Recollecting his experiences, he says, “When I started this program in 2018, it was just me and 4 experienced doctors who helped me make my program”. Today, however, the NGO has grown more than I could have ever imagined and now my team consists of over one hundred volunteers”. In just his teenage years, he has already impacted over 10,000 children. He added that his partnerships with private NGOs will allow his program to reach over 23,000 schools by the end of 2022.
However, Om did not just stop with Project Aahaar. He also launched another social program, MeraSeb. MeraSeb is an NGO that uses crowdfunding and sponsorships to raise money and uses these funds to buy and distribute healthy food in underprivileged communities. He and his team of 40 volunteers in MeraSeb have already helped 3,000 children.
Social entrepreneurs like Om are becoming a common sight in India, especially amongst teenagers. When we spoke with Dr. Sumit Talwar, a doctor who helped Om develop the Project Aahaar program, he stated that “Om’s work is beyond commendable.” We can rest easy if India’s future is in the hands of teenagers like Om, who have already become catalysts for social change before even going to university.