“I feel hungry but I have to persevere.”
Perseverance is something that 13-year-old Lidia mentions frequently when describing her life in Dagoretti, a slum community on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.
The eldest of five children, Lidia and her siblings have to skip meals regularly because their mother Catherine cannot afford to buy food, despite working long hours washing clothes. Even when the family does eat, they are only able to use cheap and basic ingredients which lack the range of vital nutrients they need to be healthy.
Often the only daily meal Lidia gets is the one she receives at school. Lidia explains, “The last time I ate at home was three days ago. My mum can’t be paid every day, so we have to wait because she doesn’t have money. We only have dinner three times a week and often the only meal I have is at school.”
“I find it hard to go without food. I cannot concentrate in class, I feel cold and my head hurts a lot. My eyes start to ache and I cannot see the blackboard clearly. I love school and my favourite subject is English but sometimes I do not come because I have a headache.”
Sadly, this isn’t only a problem for Lidia. Her Head Teacher, Jane Waweru, says 85-90% of the pupils at Mutuini Primary School don’t get enough to eat and are often too weak to concentrate in class. Although the school does provide a daily serving of rice and beans, the lunch lacks the important additional ingredients that many children are unable to get at home.
Without a regular variety of vegetables, students become malnourished and are at risk of a wide range of serious health problems including stunted growth and impaired cognitive development, both of which are irreversible. Malnourished children are also more vulnerable to disease.
Farm Africa believes that children everywhere deserve a healthy diet so that they can grow well and reach their full potential. That’s why this #GivingTuesday on December 1st, we are focusing on schools in Nairobi like Mutuini Primary, where we want to help school communities turn unused land into plentiful vegetable gardens where students, teachers and parents can come together to grow nutritious, fresh vegetables for children to eat at lunch.
Our goal is to help schools and youth clubs establish vegetable plots that will provide them with a plentiful supply of nutritious produce to eat, along with a valuable source of income from selling surplus crops, and a unique opportunity to learn practical farming skills that can benefit the children throughout their lives.
“I want to do the farming project because it will help my school. It is important to eat vegetables to get vitamins and energy”, says Lidia. “I love coming to school and when I grow up I want to be a nurse. My grades would improve if I was able to eat more.”
By making a donation to Farm Africa for #GivingTuesday you could help a school set up its own vegetable garden, giving Lidia and children like her the chance to get the nutritious food they need as well as learning practical farming skills that will help them grow a brighter future.