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Stories from the Field

From School Meals to Bright Futures: Sara Dreams of Giving Back and Helping Others Thrive

By Hannah Payne on July 8, 2024

Calm, polite, and always willing to lend a hand — that is how 15-year-old Sara is described by those who know her. 

Sara lives at Magone Girls House, a network of three homes that provide shelter for at-risk children in Lubumbashi, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and provides them with access to education at the local primary and secondary schools. Sara began living there after the tragic loss of her parents. 

Many in the community face hardships and find it challenging to provide their families with regular meals due to the area’s economic situation. This was true for Sara, too, before she moved to the house. She previously did not eat diverse or sufficient foods. 

Rise Against Hunger works with in-country partner Salesian Missions to address critical food needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through this work, Rise Against Hunger meals are distributed at Magone Girls House, providing nutritious food to Sara and the other children daily. The meals are often also prepared with local ingredients, including seasonal vegetables and meat, to help provide a balanced diet. Father Emmanuel, Director of the Magone Girls House, says the Rise Against Hunger meals improve the children’s health and well-being. He explained, “You can see the benefit of these meals just by looking at the children. Now that the children regularly eat these healthy meals, their overall health has improved.”

Since Sara began receiving the Rise Against Hunger meals, she has grown stronger without feeling fatigued. This has enabled her to better focus on school studies and household chores. She said, “It’s important for me to eat this meal because it helps me a lot. It’s very nourishing, and it strengthens my body.”

Helene, head of responsibilities at the house, has witnessed these changes in Sara firsthand. Through her role at the house, Helene supports at-risk students who have lost their families early in life by providing guidance and ensuring children receive the resources they need. She is proud to see the ways Sara has grown and notes Sara also helps take care of the other children in the house. “I believe she can build a good life for herself, and [that’s] important to me. I will accompany and support her until she finds herself a place in society and hopefully becomes a positive leader for the next generation,” Helene said.

Sara is well on her way to a bright future. Very ambitious, she is inspired by the impact of the school meals and hopes to give back to those who have supported her. “In the future, I dream of being a woman who is strong, educated, and who helps others strive to better their lives through education,” she said.

Sara’s story is just one example of the impact YOU help make possible around the world. Want to make a difference for people around the world? Host a meal packaging event with your business, church or school! The nutritious meals you will package are distributed in countries globally, providing children and families with the food they need to live a healthy life.