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Stories from the Field

Early Childhood Feeding Initiative Brings Hope for 4-Year-Old in South Africa

Jessica H Author
By Jessica Hubacher on January 9, 2019

For Raghiema, a 4-year-old girl, Seawind, South Africa, is her home. Seawind and the greater Lavender Hill area is an impoverished community on the Cape Flats, where residents settled during South Africa’s apartheid era. The community faces a multitude of challenges, including a high rate of unemployment.

For children like Raghiema in her community, consistent access to nutritious meals is a rarity. Raghiema lives with her mother and 11 other family members in crowded quarters, and prior to receiving Rise Against Hunger meals, she often ate only bread and frequently got sick. Now with the consistent nutritious food, her immune system is stronger and she is able to succeed in school, even helping her peers excel.

Ragheima receives food distributed by Rise Against Hunger South Africa while attending school. Most days she sits with her friend Tyler while eating and then spends time playing before naptime at her school. She shares, “Teacher Nawaal gives us food and sometimes I share with my friend. Now I ask my teacher if I can have more, and she gives me some more.”

Staff at the school share that Ragheima is spontaneous, outspoken and responsible, and is mature for her age. Nawaal, Principal of Small Beginners ECD Centre, explains that students are more lively now. She also says that the children have positively developed emotionally, are physically getting stronger and are able to sleep during naptime. Prior to receiving the meals from Rise Against Hunger, it was her responsibility to find food for the children’s center each week and she is now relieved to have consistent nutritional meals provided to the center so that she can focus on improving the facility in other ways. Nawaal adds her thoughts on the greater impact meals can have on the community: “I hope for a community that understands each other, that is prosperous and peaceful.”

Leanne, a Learning in Reach Project Director, explains that the teachers in schools receiving aid are grateful for this support and have been preparing and sharing recipes to add variety to the meals. Leanne also speaks about Nawaal, saying, “She has a heart for her community and wants to bring change and a brighter future for the children. Nawaal has shared that often parents send children to the ECD centres just to ensure that they have a proper meal. The education is a bonus. This reflects the long road we have to ensure that parents are better informed and supported to provide the foundation for early learning that is required to help their children grow and thrive.”

Consider investing in the future of children like Ragheima, who has her whole future in front of her and needs consistent access to nutritious food to make it a bright one!