2011 – 2012 Feeding Report
After a long struggle with the revenue authorities and through the support from FMSC the taxes were finally paid and food arrived in Rakai on Sunday, March 27, 2011 amidst jubilations by children. The RODI feeding Program by God’s grace started on April 02, 2011 as per our feeding plan. We started feeding in the two primary schools and 50 selected families with very malnourished children. At each school, two Hope Again Women worked with the kitchen staff to prepare and serve meals to all children for three days in each week.
In just a short period, the results of the program were miraculous in both schools and families! In many families, several children’s lives were saved. Our highlight is a child named Shaluwa Nabukenya whom we originally gave the food out of concern that she would soon die. A month later, she was such a different child that even her parents were amazed! Other children include Paskazia Nambooze who is now 26 months now but could not even stand at 18 months! Her growth soon took a normal trend and she is now walking! Pius (her brother) and Sarah (her sister) who were malnourished are also now growing well. Joseph and Alex live with their grandmother Costanzia. She could only give them one meal in a day and their life was at a risk. When we started feeding them, their health improved greatly.
Other benefits in the families included guardians getting more time to grow other foods to provide at least a meal a day; children attending school more regularly because they weren’t needed to help their guardians search for food; Hope Again Women having more time to make jewelry and baskets to cover other family needs and HIV/AIDS positive guardians were able to improve their immunity. In schools, enrollment increased like never before attracting children from other schools; children had more regular attendance; attentiveness of children in class improved and therefore academic achievement improved; improved health of the children; and improved attitude of children towards learning as well as reduced dropout rate.
We also did some emergency feeding towards the end of the year in families that were affected by storms. However, after seven months of feeding, we experienced many challenges mainly related to feeding in schools. The increased enrollment in the two schools selected drastically reduced enrollment in other local schools; pressure from the schools that were not included in the program, attempts by local politicians to hijack the program for political gain; and resentment from within the community which did not understand our criteria for selection of vulnerable families. In the end, we resolved to stop feeding in the schools but instead chose to identify more vulnerable families using the children in schools. We increased the number of vulnerable families to 85 which in turn lengthened the feeding time by 3 months. In summary, we served 270,864 meals to children in schools and selected vulnerable families.
Impacts of the feeding programme since March
Through constant monitoring and evaluation in schools and among the families, we discovered that the feeding programme has had enormous positive impacts. They include;
- Increased enrolment; At St. Jude Kibaale Primary school, the enrolment has increased from 540 children in 2010 to the current 680 children. At Kabaale Primary School, the enroment has increased from 400 children to 457 children. These increments have never been experienced before and instead children were always dropping out of school. All credit is given to the feeding programme by the teachers and administrators.
- Improved regularity of children in these schools. Because the children expect a meal at school, they come to school every day. Although there are three days in the week when FMSC food is served, the days are alternated so that it is not clear when the meals will be served. This is meant to guard against children coming to school on only days when FMSC meals are served.
- Improved attentiveness in classes. Since all children have a meal at lunch, they are more ready to learn in the afternoons. On the days, when FMSC meals are not served, the school serves food contributed by parents. Therefore, children are fed all the week. Kibaale primary school was also able to grow corn which was milled and is served during the two days when FMSC meals are not served.
- Improved health of the children. The schools reported a reducing number of sicknesses and that supports continued learning for most of the children.
- Improved attitude of children towards learning since they are always not hungry.
- Reduced dropout rate of children from school. For some children, school provides the only valuable meal (lunch) which many families do not have. So it is an advantage staying in school.
- Academic standards have also improved. Performance of children in terms of percentage average has also improved and each of the schools thinks that their children will perform better in the national examinations at the end of the year.
- At Kabaale, children that are HIV positive receive 2 meals at school. This has greatly improved their immunity.
- It has been such a great chance for the HAW to serve. The help the cooks in preparing the meals.
To the families
- Improved health for especially children and old people that had been suffering from diseases due to malnourishment. The best examples include Shaluwa, Veronica’s young child and the twins.
- The guardians in the families have been able to grow other crops to supplement the food from FMSC. From these, they have been able to earn some income. In the recent harvest season, every home that we were feeding harvested at least a sack of corn and 50kg of beans. Kelezensia and Cate’s family are the best examples here.
- Many children have been able to attend schools regularly.
- There is less stress on the guardians to provide all the meals for the children. The children at least have a meal at school.
- For HAW families, there has been time to perfect their skills, especially in weaving baskets.
- The immunity of those that are HIV/AIDS positive has also improved giving more hope for.