How lunch can help secure the future of children
For 8 year-old Suzanne Peter, having a warm lunch meal everyday is no matter of course. "I had to miss school sometimes, and then found it very difficult to concentrate in class when I went to school", she tells us. This was before the school feeding program. Suzanne is one of over 5,000 children who receive a daily warm meal from Malteser International in war-ravaged South Sudan.
When the fighting came to their village, Suzanne, her grandmother and five siblings were forced to flee to Wau town, where they found refuge in a church compund. "My mother died as we tried to escape", she recounts. Her grandmother has now become solely responsible for the children's wellbeing, and has had to earn an extra income to provide food for them.
Families are in dire need of food
After seeing their food rations cut in half, refugee families are struggling to survive on the meagre rations they receive in the camps. A whole food ration barely meets the nutritional needs of an individual. Because many of them fled with nothing, many refugees have no means to provide food for themselves. Moreover, South Sudan is also facing a hunger crisis on an unimaginable scale.
In the past, Suzanne and her siblings only had a little breakfast before going to school, but this was not enough to sustain them. "I was always hungry on getting to school. Sometimes, I would feel as if I was going to black out."
Suzanne now looks forward to going to school everyday because of the assurance of a warm meal in the afternoon. "It's not just about free lunch", she says smiling. "The lessons are a lot of fun. My favourite subject is English Language, and my teacher is my biggest role model. I want to be a teacher too. I want to have a job that will help me take care of my grandmother and siblings."
Being hungry has a dangerous impact on a child’s ability to learn. Children who go to school hungry may suffer an inability to concentrate and often fall behind academically. Hungry children are also more likely to miss school due to sickness, and develop behavioral problems as teenagers.
You can help secure the future of these children by supporting our school feeding program. Donate now!