UGANDA: Poor students stay in school with rice-meal shipment
Prices of basic food staples have almost doubled due to economic crises after COVID-19.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 3, 2023) Poor youth gaining their education through Don Bosco Bombo schools, located in Bombo, Uganda, had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization that provides food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. The rice-meal shipment was distributed in the second quarter of 2022.
The region, like the rest of East Africa, saw big economic changes in 2022. Prices of basic commodities, especially fuel and food, increased and impacted the management of Don Bosco schools. In particular, prices of basic food staples have almost doubled due to the economic crises after the COVID-19 pandemic and the change of weather that caused food scarcity.
Salesians operate a secondary school, vocational training center, boarding house and parish in Bombo. The local community is mainly poor and relies on agriculture and informal businesses. Salesians provide education and pastoral programs.
“Our community needs basic support to be able to fulfill our educational mission,” explained Father Thomas Cyprian, rector of Salesians of Don Bosco Bombo Namaliga mission. “Rise Against Hunger meals helped us to manage the food crises in our institutions and greatly assisted in making the last quarter successful. The impact of the food crisis was not felt so much as a result. Our beneficiaries continued their teaching and learning activities without interruption.”
Martha Nafuuna, age 18, was one of the recipients. She is from a poor family that is not able to afford private schooling and chose to join Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Bombo to gain an education. Nafuuna recalled her life before receiving Rise Against Hunger meals. “Before this donation, I could not see my future in this school. Many students were worried and forced to drop out because the school had reached its capacity and was not able to provide housing or food to the students.”
Nafuuna gratefully acknowledges the impact Rise Against Hunger meals have had on her life. Receiving the meals saved her from having to drop out and she can continue working toward her career aspirations. The meals provided her with a balanced lunch and have improved her general well-being. Her concentration in class has improved and she feels fuller for longer periods in the day because of the nutritious diet the meals offer. She and her classmates, with whom she shares the meals, found the meals delicious.
Nafuuna added, “Thanks to Rise Against Hunger meals, I can focus on my coursework so that one day I will find employment to sustain my family and improve their livelihoods. I want to be a professional fashion designer and I have confidence that I will.”
Nearly 21 percent of the population in Uganda lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. This number rises to 33 percent for those living in the northern region where poverty is greatest. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its United Nations Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 159 out of 189 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.
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