Published: 16th February 2020
These students organised a PR campaign to raise awareness about hunger and malnutrition
Strike Hunger was organised by students who conducted food drives and flash mobs to bring attention to a number of social issues like hunger and malnutrition
On one of their more hectic days in between planning for their annual PR campaign, the 3rd year students of the Communicative English Department of St Teresa's College recollect seeing a fire truck parked outside their college. 20 firemen sat exhausted under the punishing afternoon sun after clearing a gigantic tree that had fallen face-first into the middle of the road. The girls rummaged their bags for their water bottles, collected biscuits and bananas from a nearby shop and distributed them among the officers.
After this symbolic beginning to their campaign, the students had no doubt about the cause they had espoused. Perhaps it was with this in mind that the teachers of the Communicative English Department crafted their syllabus with a compulsory Public Relations campaign. And while it revolves around a number of prominent social causes, this year, they decided to strip it of anything but the cause itself and create an awareness campaign about hunger.
Titled 'Strike Hunger’, the campaign which officially kick-started on August 2019 culminated on February 6. A student campaigner Parvati Nair says, “Since the beginning of this academic year, we have been working towards making things happen. The campaign focuses on 4 core areas including food wastage, hunger, malnutrition and spreading awareness on effective waste management.”
RELIEF STATE: The girls were inspired by relief activities that were organised after the Kerala Floods
What inspired the students this year? “The repeated floods in Kerala,” answers Parvati. “None of us saw it coming and it completely ravaged the state. Having seen the loss of lives, people struggling for food and space. Those of us who volunteered at the relief camps personally witnessed the apathy that can sometimes hit harder than a natural disaster. We witnessed food being collected but not reaching the needy at the right time due to a number of issues. As students, our hands were tied but we decided to use this knowledge to do do our part.”
And through a carefully set out agenda, the students approached this issue through a number of programmes. What began with awareness sessions, a radio show appearance and social media promotions was slowly taken onto the streets. Their work began last Onam, a time when people come together to celebrate food. They introduced a 'Clean the plate' challenge on social media where they encouraged people to not waste any food during the holiday. They also organised lunch for the 30 girls from Nirbhaya Bhavan, an orphanage in Pachalam, Kochi.
Parvati says, “They say change begins at home. That is exactly what we aimed at with our next set of activities that focused on promoting a general awareness among people.” Towards the end of 2019, the team of students began by sensitising almost 800 children in 12 major of Kochi’s major schools through awareness sessions on ‘Food Wastage and Malnutrition’ by experts like dieticians, doctors, restaurant owners and teachers. The interactive sessions were on food wastage and malnutrition.
Following this, the students also surveyed 329 houses in Mulavukad panchayat to evaluate their waste disposal methods and food wastage programmes. The students were able to promote awareness about the segregation of food waste for better processing and other waste management techniques like bucket composting. The report of the survey analysis was submitted to the Mulavukad panchayat and Collector on February 6, outlining effective solutions to the problem.