ZAMBIA: Rice-meals feed students living in poverty
Don Bosco Youth Center provides shelter and services for homeless youth.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 29, 2023) Youth attending St. Mary Mazzarello School and City of Hope Community School in Zambia had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.”
The 2022 shipment of rice-meals fed more than 2,300 students at each school. City of Hope Community School starts at preschool and goes up to grade 12. It also has a skills-training center for older youth. St. Mary Mazzarello School is a primary and secondary school.
A Salesian sister noted, “The children are so grateful for the food. Many ask if they can take anything home. The donation has increased performance of both the teachers and learners. The children are more active and healthier because of the well-balanced diet they receive. Most students are now able to attend classes and engage with class content unlike in the past when they used to come to school on empty stomachs. It was difficult for them to concentrate and stay long hours in school as required by the curriculum.”
The rice-meals also helped feed close to 3,000 people in the community, where many people live below the poverty line. The Salesians are overwhelmed by the number of people who cannot meet their basic needs.
Michael, age 14 and in grade seven, benefits from the rice-meals. Michael and his family live near the Salesian sisters’ convent. The family is poor and often struggles to buy food for everyone in the household. Whenever the family lacks food, he comes to collect two boxes of rice.
The Salesian sister explained, “Michael is a studious young boy who has performed exceptionally well in school so far. He completed his studies in 2022 with good merit and has gone on to join another school this year. Although Michael is no longer formally part of the school, he often comes back eager to ask about the rice-meals that I had told him were on the way. Michael has expressed his dreams of becoming an engineer once he completes his schooling. I have no doubt that he will achieve his dreams.”
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64% of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80%, according to UNICEF. Over the past three decades, incomes in Zambia have fallen steadily, and people do not have enough money to meet basic needs such as shelter, nutritious food and medical care.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has also taken a devastating toll on Zambia’s children. There are 1.2 million children classified as orphaned and vulnerable by UNICEF, and these children struggle to find education, basic services and hope for their future.
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