The community of Imeristiafindra, home to 12-year-old girl Maminiaina, is in a rural area in the highlands of the Madagascar with a local economy dependent on mining and farming, though the land available for agricultural use is extremely limited. With large average family sizes, local income-generating activities often cannot cover all daily expenses, particularly food. Due to the severe lack of water available in the area, general nutrition is poor, with diets made up of rice, maize or cassava, and on the very rare occasion, vegetables and fruits.
Maminiaina is a young girl with dreams of becoming a teacher, though she admits that she is unaware of many potential jobs. Along with her friends, she enjoys outdoor activities but often is required to help her siblings at the stone pit when she’s not in school. Her family sells five boxes of gravel per day, which yields about $3.20. Prior to receiving Rise Against Hunger meals provided through her school, distributed by partner Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, she ate three small portions of rice per day, which sometimes contained leaves or beans. Now with access to nutritional meals at school, she no longer feels hungry during classes and also uses her eating time to sit with friends.
Mamihantaniaina, a teacher from Maminiaina’s school, shares that despite needing to help her family with work, Maminiaina loves studying and was ranked fifth out of 24 classmates. She attributes Maminiaina’s success to the supplementary food she receives at school. She explains that taking into account her daily activities, such as helping her sister, studying, doing chores and taking care of her niece, Maminiaina would not have the energy to succeed without the meals she receives at school.
She also shares that due to their daily ration of Rise Against Hunger meals, the majority of the students are more focused on classes. Some of the children don’t receive breakfast at home and the school-provided meal in the morning helps them avoid hunger throughout the day. Even parents in the community are aware of the meals’ benefits and each parent or guardian takes turns cooking the meals for the students.
Mamihantaniaina says she loves her job as a teacher because she loves taking care of children and hopes to give them a brighter future. She also hopes her school and community will be a model for its neighbors in terms of school academic performance, hygiene and environmental status.
Program Assistant Hantaniaina, echoes the feelings of Mamihantaniaina, sharing, “Personally, I particularly enjoy when the school visits fall in ‘lunch time.’ It makes me feel proud of bringing a positive change in needy children’s lives.”
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