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Stories from the Field

The Children of MorningStar Shine: This Early Childhood Development Center Supports Education and Nutrition in South Africa

By Audrey Kleiner on October 17, 2023

Every child deserves to be nurtured through an education and nutritious meals to healthily and happily grow. In South Africa, Rise Against Hunger Africa is working to make this a reality for many children through the Early Childhood Development Connect program, which provides donated meals to early childhood development centers (ECDs) in South Africa. The meals not only nourish the young children that attend the ECDs but also create cost savings for the centers to improve their infrastructure and achieve government certifications.

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are sharing stories from South Africa where ECDs, like MorningStar, are giving children the opportunity for education and nutrition. MorningStar is a level 4 Early Childhood Development Center in Johannesburg supported by Rise Against Hunger Africa’s ECD Connect program. MorningStar ECD started in 2008 with a passion to provide for and help children in an informal settlement area. With Rise Against Hunger Africa meals, children receive meals that nourish their bodies and support their education. MorningStar’s infrastructure has also flourished into a thriving space for 35 children ages 0-6, with a kitchen, outdoor area and multiple classrooms.

The children there are active and excited to attend the ECD, proclaiming with loud voices, “We are the children of MorningStar, We shine like a diamond.” Watch a video about MorningStar here to see a testament of ECDs and how working together creates positive impacts.

Sanna Mokoena, MorningStar Founder and Principal

The founder and principal of MorningStar ECD, Sanna Mokoena has seen firsthand how the ECD has made a difference to the children and their families. “It helps the children because [the parents] know that their children are in a safe place. They are being developed. They are being stimulated. They are being cared for, and they are safe. Also, they are having nutritious meals for the day.”

In addition to nourishing the children who attend MorningStar and supporting their development, the Rise Against Hunger meals also provided a better opportunity for the center to start saving. Through the generated savings, the ECD was able to advance in size and gain more resources for the children. Mokoena is proud to have submitted with the Department of Nutrition and how the Morning Star ECD has been prospering. “We started saving, when we received the Rise Against Hunger packet, parcels, and then now we started saving. Monthly we could buy things from step by step,” Mokoena said.

Irene, parent of a MorningStar child

A parent of a child who attends MorningStar ECD, Irene Muketa noticed a difference in the children. Her daughter, along with other children ages 0-6, participates in the ECD program. “It brings the appetite to our children, because our kids before, they never used to eat, they didn’t have an appetite. But after they ate Rise Against Hunger [meals] at the center, there’s a huge difference from our children. They’re so fresh. They’re so cute. They’re so active,” Muketa said.

Muketa believes the future is at MorningStar ECD. She explains that the children are receiving a foundation to grow through the community of MorningStar for a bright future. 

Sanna Mokena also has high hopes and dreams for MorningStar. “I’m dreaming big. I want to see MorningStar ECD complying in all areas. When I close my eyes, I would see extra classes, extra children,” Mokena said. MorningStar is one of the many ECDs being supported by Rise Against Hunger and seeing positive impact in South Africa. Learn more about the ECD Connect program here.

Will you join us in making a positive impact? Please consider donating $25 to help support bright futures and the nourishment of lives in South Africa and across the world.