Malnutrition is a very real concern for families and children in the remote rural areas and during 2015 when Zimbabwe faced one of its worst droughts the situation became critical. Our loyal donors – Fredrik Eklund and WTMD kicked off a feeding programme aimed initially at the youngest children in our first school and quickly expanded to over 1,000 primary school children. However, the effects of the drought brought more and more children and schools appealing for help as attendance fell and schools recorded high cases of severe hunger amongst the children.
We sent out many urgent appeals which Jonathan Ruff from Tamba Park responded to and we quickly got to work. The Ruff’s Kitchens feeding programme was brought to three schools in the Makonde District in 2016 giving 1,800 children a traditional Zimbabwean porridge-based-drink called mahewu (maize meal, sorghum, milk solids, lactic acid and sugar) fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, sourced from a local organisation.
Our partnership with Ruff’s Kitchens thrived during 2017 and by the end of the year we reached 9 primary schools and 7 ECD (early childhood development) centres in the district, feeding an astounding 5,400 children every day.
The schools now have high attendance levels with some recording a 50% increase in their enrolment. During our monitoring visits, you do not need to search for proof that the programme is working – it is visibly clear! The children do not look as gaunt and skinny as before, they are much more energised, their skin is glowing and there are many happy faces. The school’s overall results and performance are much higher and are par-taking more in sports competitions and other after-school activities. Teachers describe the classroom environment as completely changed… “it has made a very challenging job easier to do, even though classes are larger”.
Our Feeding Minds Trust is bringing a teacher training programme to the district to make sure these children receive a QUALITY education ie. not just the basics! Improvements to the education they receive, would be nowhere near as effective if the children are too ill or hungry to receive their teachings. Thank you to all who have given and been a part of filling our children’s tummies!