Food for Happiness November 2019: School Lunch Project with ESA Japan

By Rika Hoffman
Updated: December 29, 2022

Food for Happiness November Project with ESA Japan: ¥60,000 Raised to Feed School Children in Kainjalia

In November 2019, byFood partnered with ESA Japan to support school children who have been affected by the 100-day strike in Darjeeling in 2017. Our goal was to raise ¥60,000 to provide one month’s supply of eggs for the 580 students at Notre Dame School in the village of Kainjalia, who are still experiencing the aftereffects of the strike. Through our Food for Happiness Program, we were able to reach this goal with the support of our hosts and your bookings.

Conditions in Rural Darjeeling

During the separatist strike in 2017, children and families in the Darjeeling area endured over three months without food, internet, or phone service. The Darjeeling tea crops suffered and the local commercial activities stopped. As a result, many parents, most of whom are day workers, lost their source of income. The local economy, which was based on Darjeeling tea and tourism, collapsed, leaving children and families to pick up the pieces and try to begin life anew. 

Kainjalia mountainous region

ESA Japan's School Lunch Project

Kainjalia is mountainous and remote, so it is difficult to transport food there, and the school does not have the facilities for cooking meals. To offer temporary assistance, byFood raised funds for ESA Japan to provide the students of Notre Dame School in Kainjalia with a month's supply of eggs, a protein-rich option that has a long shelf life and is easy to cook. The eggs are provided once per week as a nutritious supplement to their diets.

The ¥60,000 raised covers the cost of the eggs and fuel for their transportation for one month. In total, ESA Japan spends 500,000 Indian rupees per year to supplement school lunches at Notre Dame School.

Two women boiling eggs at Notre Dame in rural Darjeeling

Notre Dame School and Students

Notre Dame School in Kainjalia has 580 students between the ages of 4 and 15. Some students are orphans who live in the school dorm, and others live with their parents or relatives. While some students receive a lunch box from home containing basics like rice, many do not. Since the school is in a secluded area, some students need to walk for 1-2 hours to attend classes, and require proper nutrition for the journey. 

Students wearing red sweaters stand outside Notre Dame School in Kainjalia

ESA Japan's Long-Term Plan

ESA Japan’s mission is to build up the community so that the school can become independent and self-sustaining. The school lunch program is only the first step. The second step is to implement a life improvement program, a micro-finance operation which provides families with young livestock to raise for a year. After a year, the family can sell the fully-grown livestock for 20,000 rupees and return 5,000 rupees to ESA, covering the initial cost of the baby pig, cow, or goat. The money that is returned to ESA Japan will be used to help fund the school and give other families the same opportunity.

A woman stands outside a picked area, with her livestock

Update from ESA Japan

Thanks to your bookings, byFood was able to raise ¥60,000 in November. Recent correspondence with the team at ESA Japan has confirmed that the income generation project that involves raising cattle is off to a good start, though there was some hesitancy toward accepting the program in the beginning. The students at Notre Dame School in Kainjalia are healthy and benefitting from the nutritious egg program, and their parents are also appreciative of the assistance.

School children hold up hard-boiled eggs, a part of their daily lunch provided by ESA Japan, an NGO

Spreading Happiness Through Food

For December 2019, we have partnered with Aid for Child Trust (ACT) to provide school uniforms for children in Noida. If you would like to support NPOs and NGOs like ESA Japan and ACT, consider booking a food experience in Japan through byFood. 

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Rika Hoffman
Rika is a sourdough enthusiast, amateur film photographer, and pun-lover, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A carb-based lifeform, she is always on the lookout for tasty bakeries in Tokyo.
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