Nutrition is important at any age, but it is especially important in children. Every child requires proper nutrients to stay healthy and strong, and it also helps to lay the groundwork for healthy eating habits and nutritional knowledge that a child can apply throughout their lives. However, unfortunately, the problem of childhood malnutrition is prevalent around the globe, and especially in India. According to the Global Nutrition Report 2018, nearly half of all under five child mortality in India is attributable to undernutrition. Malnutrition in children occurs as a complex interplay among factors like poverty, maternal health illiteracy, etc. In the 2019 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 102 out of 119 qualifying countries. With a score of 30.3, India suffers from a serious level of hunger. Nearly 47 million of 4 out of 10 children in India are not able to meet their full potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
To improve this dire situation, Om Sharma, a class 12 student at The International School Bangalore (TISB), has set out on a mission to eradicate malnutrition. In 2018, he launched an NGO called ‘Project Aahaar’, which teaches children about the essentials of nutrition and how they can stay healthy. As a teenager, he has already touched the lives of over 10,000 children with this program. He has also secured partnerships with private NGOs, allowing his program to be implemented in 23,000 schools, touching the lives of 300,000 children. In an interview, he said, “The only reason my program could reach such heights was because of my amazing team of over one hundred volunteers”. However, Om did not stop his mission at just Project Aahaar. He has also launched another social initiative, ‘MeraSeb’, which raises funds and uses them to distribute nutritious foods in underprivileged communities. He has raised 2 million INR through this NGO and has already helped over 3,000 children.
Om began this marvellous journey when he saw the fatal problem of malnutrition manifest in his community which drove him to learn more about its causes. He says that he collaborated with various experts to create his program, most notably Dr. Sumit Talwar.
While his feats are already impressive, especially since he is only a teenager, Om emphasizes that this is “just the beginning”. He hopes to utilize his college education as an avenue to grow his social projects.
Om’s website: www.om-sharma.com