Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: January 04, 2022

Better Nutrition Leads to Brighter Outcomes

Placide’s family is desperately poor. So poor, in fact, that he often wonders whether there will be enough food to eat on any given day. Many times, there isn’t. It is the sad reality of living in Burundi, a country where more than 90 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, and where competition for already-scarce resources has only intensified in recent years.

“The reasons for Burundi’s ongoing struggles are complex,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, “and require a multi-dimensional approach to addressing them. Among other programs, our missionaries in the country are dedicated to alleviating the burdens of poverty through education—equipping youth with the skills they need to change their lives, their communities, and their countries.”

One of those burdens is malnutrition—a problem missionaries address through school-based feeding programs. Thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger, more than 1,200 students who attend Lycée Don Bosco High School in Bujumbura now receive a daily fortified meal every day of the week. During the second quarter of 2020 alone, school staff cooked and served 396,990 of these meals to grateful students like Placide.

And, according to school administrators, the nutritional support is having an immediate impact on the students’ performance.

Placide, for instance, was always motivated to learn—but his gnawing hunger got in the way. Weak and unable to concentrate, he was prone to falling asleep in class, unable to follow instructions when he was awake, and couldn’t participate in the after-school sports he loved. Now, with the daily meals he receives, he’s more alert, energetic and better able to focus on his studies in earth science and biochemistry.

Mbaga Corneille, principal of Lycée Don Bosco, notes how well students are doing thanks to their daily meals. “Students are happy, perform better, keep smiling, play well and are regularly attending school,” she says.

For Placide, his fellow students, and thousands of other hungry boys and girls around the world, one simple plate of food a day—made possible by humanitarian organizations that donate the food; the Salesian missionaries who prepare and distribute it; and caring friends like you who help fund transportation costs—is helping to light a path toward a brighter and healthier tomorrow.

Our mission provides nutritious meals to impoverished students to help fuel their education. What’s your mission?

Learn more about our work in Burundi.

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