In the district of Carazo within Diriamba, Nicaragua, 10-year-old Keyling, the eldest of three sisters, lives with her single mother, Lilian. In Diriamba, the seasonality of coffee, the district’s main crop, has caused an unemployment epidemic. Fortunately, Lilian has a job to provide for Keyling and her sisters. Lilian leaves for work early each morning and returns late each night, leaving Keyling responsible for many of the household duties.
Keyling assists her mother by washing clothes and caring for her siblings. Keyling makes tortillas and rosquillas to sell on the weekends for extra income. Her responsibilities at home, coupled with her shy personality, caused her to frequently miss school. Due to these circumstances, Keyling’s first grade teacher decided to hold her back a grade.
Keyling now attends an after school program operated by Rise Against Hunger partner ORPHANetwork. This program provides students with nutritious Rise Against Hunger meals, health assessments, deworming pills, vitamins and dental care. Pregnant and nursing mothers are provided with education to help prevent malnutrition. Students like Keyling are encouraged and empowered to make positive choices that will enable them to break the cycle of poverty. Since Keyling’s enrollment in the program, her self confidence has improved and she has shown improvements in her math and reading performance in school.
Juan Jose, one of Keyling’s after school program leaders, shared that many quiet and reserved children have become joyful and excited once they enter this program. Juan is confident that the health benefits provided in Rise Against Hunger meals, paired with positive changes seen in the community stemming from this after school program, will help students gain new opportunities and help build a brighter future.