Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: April 02, 2024

BURUNDI: More than 1,600 students receive meals through Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger

People facing high levels of food insecurity across the country.  

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 2, 2024) More than 1,600 students attending Don Bosco high schools in Ngozi and Buterere, Burundi*, had access to better nutrition during the second half of 2023 thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Rise Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization growing a global movement to end hunger. 

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Across the country, people are facing high levels of food insecurity due to the political and economic situation, poor agricultural production, and rapid population growth. Fuel shortages also make transportation of goods difficult. 

One of the recipient schools, Don Bosco High School in Ngozi, has 1,088 students, including 778 boys and 310 girls. Since its foundation, the school has faced food shortages due to a lack of funding. The available land is not enough to produce a sufficient quantity of food to feed the 650 students in the boarding school. 

The fortified rice-meals provided by Rise Against Hunger are making a difference in this shortfall. The students have three meals a day at school. In the morning, they are given porridge and at lunch, they have cassava bread. The Rise Against Hunger meals are given to them at dinner, which the students enjoy. 

One of the young students who received the meals is Bwitonzi Gaby Charbel, age 13, who is studying in class eight. When his parents brought him to Don Bosco High School, Charbel struggled with the transition to a boarding school. It was his first time living outside of the family home. Today, Charbel is healthy and plays basketball games with his classmates. He is also active in choir, and he sings and dances during school functions. 

During his free time, Charbel helps on the farm, having befriended the chickens and goats. He visits the farm at least once a day. Inspired by the school farm, Charbel started a small farm with three chickens at his home during the holidays. 

When asked about his plans, Charbel noted, “I want to become a great farmer, able to provide for the needs of my family and other vulnerable children.” After he struggled in school, Charbel was able to get back on track. The meals have been helping him. When asked what he enjoys most within the school, Charbel said, “In this school, I like three things: Rise Against Hunger meals, the farm and the music.” 

Burundi has seen more than a decade of violence and conflict which has contributed to widespread poverty, according to UNICEF. Children are some of the most severely affected by the country’s rampant poverty. Fifty-three percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from growth stunting caused by inadequate food, low-quality diet, poor infant feeding practices, poor household management of childhood diseases and the general decline of the country’s health system. 

*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. 


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