As technological advancements and seemingly digital welfare in this postmodern era have made the lives of many of our children luminous and privileged, there have been an enormous number of children in the society, who have been steeping into deeper darkness. Various levels of social constraints like poverty, illiteracy, child labour, child trafficking, malnutrition etc have created a huge halo of economic, psychological, educational, and digital darkness around these destitute-stricken multitude of children in both city and rural areas of our country.
In service to the nation, to ease the struggles of these children and to help them break the shackles of deprivations in life where they have been eternally chained in, Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math initiated a child-welfare programme named Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa (GAP) in October 2010 as a part of its four-year long 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Swami Vivekananda. Named after the childhood name of Sri Sri Thakur Sri Ramakrishna, i.e. ‘Gadhadhar’, the Gadhadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa has been functioning through the Brach Centres of the Belur Math Headquarters with an attempt to provide physical, psychological, and intellectual care to the children in need. A huge number of children have been rescued and are still being rescued from underprivileged and underdeveloped areas all around the urban and ruralscape and are provided with a life of bare essentials including food, hygiene, education, and health care.
As the purpose of GAP is to provide physical, psychological, and intellectual care to the socially deprived children (aged 7 to 12 years), they continue to be trained through evening classes for about 2 to 3 hours a day for around 25 days a month.
The children are trained for physical developments through participation in games and exercises. They are provided with necessary equipments for the same. Training for a day begins with prayers followed by physical exercises. Students are given basic trainings on health and hygiene, in toilet practice, necessity of safe drinking water, brushing teeth, washing hands, clipping nails, using mosquito net at night, etc. They are exposed to awareness related to health and hygiene, especially in their living conditions. They are also given periodical health check-ups. Medical necessities and expenses are borne by the Centres. At the end of each day’s programme, nutritive food supplements are served to all the participants, to counter the problem of malnutrition. As a part of the programme, the children are periodically provided with the following items: school bags, school uniforms, study materials like notebooks, pen, pencil, eraser, etc., books, umbrellas/raincoats, footwear, toiletry items like toothpaste, toothbrush, tongue-cleaner, soap, oil, nail-clipper, etc.
The children are also exposed to dedicated trainings in cultural activities like singing, chanting, painting, performing plays etc. To liberate their minds from cultural inhibitions, they are regularly given competent guidance on meditation and yoga.
For an intellectual and characteristic development, the children are taught about the lives and teachings of great personalities in the field of literature, religion, history etc. A primary focus is always laid on values-based education. They are also exposed to the culture and heritage of our nation through screenings of films and documentaries.
Overall, the Gadhadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa aims at an ‘all-round’ development of children with particular focus on health, hygiene, values-based education, and physical-cultural-
With the successful execution and running of the Gadhadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa all over the country; Ramakrishna Math, Bolpur has been selected by the Belur Math Headquarters as a prospective centre to run GAP with children collected from the poverty driven areas in the vicinity of Bolpur. The annual expenses to run GAP at the Bolpur Math have been estimated as Rs. 3 lakhs.