Alappuzha: School students in Kerala's Alappuzha have embarked on an ambitious mission to eradicate absolute poverty in the coastal district.
Under the initiative titled 'Children for Alleppey' a batch of 100 students will adopt one struggling family each in Alappuzha and donate items, including food every month to them, from February 6 onwards.
The idea, also aimed at teaching the children lessons on sharing and community service, was mooted by Alappuzha district collector, V R Krishna Teja.
The district administration has identified 3,613 economically disadvantaged families and decided to link them with government as well as private schools.
"Through this programme, Alappuzha will become the first district in the country where extremely poor families will be uplifted. In other words, there will be no more extreme poverty in Alappuzha from February 6," Teja told PTI.
Identity of beneficiaries not to be revealed
The identity of the beneficiary families will be kept confidential by the district administration.
Elaborating on the initiative, Teja said with the support of the district panchayat, MLAs, and ministers from the district, the first Monday of every month will be observed as 'community service day' in schools.
"On the first Monday, we encourage the children to bring food or other items which can be used. Such items will be collected in a box. Students can bring pulses, soap or toothpaste or atta, or any random useful item other than rice and cash. If a school of 300 students adopted three extremely poor families, the items collected will be segregated and given to them." The initiative has drawn an overwhelming response from schools in the district.
"Even some schools have decided to adopt one family for every 50 students. We want students to learn the happiness of sharing, even if it's a small thing," Teja said.
The district collector noted that rice was not required as it is given to the needy through the public distribution system.
"Even if the item is small, it should be given in kind and not in cash. It's perfectly fine if some students cannot contribute. We have nominated one teacher in each school as a community service coordinator and a student as a community service leader. Everything will be coordinated through community service clubs," the collector said.
He hailed students and their parents as 'heroes' of this initiative.
"It's a collective effort. The entire credit goes to the students and their parents. Society itself has come forward to participate in it. Such initiatives will happen only in Kerala where the whole society has forward-thinking. They are coming forward. One school has already informed us that they were ready to provide medicines to the extremely poor family adopted by them...," Teja said.
Ideals of Left govt being implemented
Steps to eliminate extreme poverty are being taken in line with the vision of the Left government.
"When the second Left government came to power, a major decision taken in the first cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister was to eradicate extreme poverty from the state," he recalled.
The panchayats are also preparing micro plans to eliminate poverty from the state.
Beneficiary families identified on four factors
In the budget for 2023-24 presented in the State Assembly on Friday, Finance Minister K N Balagopal has said the state government has initiated the extreme poverty identification process in order to eradicate poverty in the state within five years.
As a first step, 64,006 extremely poor families have been identified on the basis of four factors namely food, health, income, and shelter; and guidelines have been issued for the scheme, he said.
The government is planning to implement the programme with the help of the Kudumbashree mission and under the supervision of Local Self Government Institutions, besides preparing a household micro-level plan to emancipate the above families and individuals from absolute poverty within the next five years.
An amount of Rs 50 crore has also been set apart as a gap fund for Local Self Government Institutions not having sufficient funds in relation to the number of beneficiaries.
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