GOOD FOOD, GOOD FUTURE
“There is an intrinsic link between nutrition and academic performance”, according to one key Church leader in Northern Uganda. Reverend Samuel Francis, the Youth and Student Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Northern Uganda, was speaking during a recent visit to Nyapeya Nursery & Primary School. His visit coincided with a delivery of 450 kilograms of high quality food by Feed A Million Mouths International (FAMMI).
FAMMI’s delivery of its NRG XTRA porridge has been supported by St Patrick’s Church in Drumbeg Parish, Belfast, Northern Ireland, a key supporter of the school. The precooked porridge will provide the children with a high energy, high protein food will sustain them throughout the day. This is something that Reverend Francis said is crucial for maximising work inside the classroom.
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“The food is really going to help the children to stay in school, it’s going to encourage them to come to school every day as well, and will also improve on their quality of life. Their health will be improved and in turn their academic performance will be improved too,” he said.
Currently there are 264 children enrolled at the school, from nursery to Primary Seven level. In the past, according to head teacher Mr Mwaka Meshio, the children have often gone the entire school day without eating.
For Reverend Francis, the provision of a nutritious and tasty food means that enrollment at the school is only likely to increase in the future. The product was given the thumbs up by both him and his colleague, Reverend Charles Okello, the Diocese’s Education Officer, when they tasted FAMMI’s vanilla flavoured porridge. This is one of two flavours, along with cinnamon, currently in production.
The Children Are Happy
“You see the children are happy, today we have 264 children in the school, and now we have good food at the school, with this porridge, that number is going to grow bigger. Next term we are going to have a minimum of 300 here. Right now recruitment is going on and next year there can be 400 children coming here,” he said.
One of the proposers for the school initially, Reverend Francis said that the provision of an education facility in rural Nyapeya means that local children are being provided with education opportunities they would not likely be afforded at such an early age.
Reverend Francis has a close investment in the progress and success of the learning Centre. The provision of a school in rural Nyapeya, he said, is having a hugely positive effect on local children.
Support for the school has come from the Diocese of Northern Uganda, St Patrick’s Church and Fields of Life. The latter is an organization that partners with churches and communities to provide access to quality education.
“Most of these children would be at home otherwise. The earliest children that these children would go to school would be around eight or nine years of age, those are the children who can try to move a distance. So that means that by the time they are in Primary Five, the girls are big, they are teenagers, and then they are uprooted from school because they are marriage material. So the school coming here means the children start school at a much earlier age, which is vital.”
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Years of turmoil, due to the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the impact of war, saw people in Northern Uganda simply trying to survive. This took focus away from education, as entire communities were uprooted from their homes, Reverend Francis said. Today, in more peaceful times, people are once again seeing the value of education.
“I think the community has seen the value of education, because during the time of war the most important thing was to survive, education was not a priority. But that has changed now. Most of the children are not able to support themselves when they are adults so they see education as a way of breaking out of poverty and also getting leaders who are able to serve the community.
“So the community values education now but there is still a problem of poverty and many parents still lack the ability to provide basic needs for the children. Even now when you are asking can a child come with a kilo of sugar from home, it’s a challenge. That’s why providing food to the school is so essential and so beneficial,” he said.
Reverend Francis praised the work of FAMMI, for their work as a social enterprise supporting at-risk communities. He also highlighted the good work undertaken by Fields of Life, with whom the Diocese has worked with to build three schools in the area. Reverend Francis thanked St Patrick’s Church in Northern Ireland for their support in affording children in impoverished and isolated areas to receive education. All this has allowed young people with the opportunity to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.
About FAMMI: www.fammi.org
About Buy Breakfast: www.fammi.org/buy-breakfast
About Fields of Life: www.fieldsoflife.org
About St Patrick’s, Drumberg: www.drumbegparish.com
About the Author: Eoin Scanlon is the Commissioning Editor for the FAMMI News Desk. He is based in Ireland but has in depth knowledge of Uganda after having lived there for an extensive period.