Food programs have always been an important focus for the projects in Kenya, as GVI Kenya Country Director Tess Doogue explains 'You cannot separate nutrition and education; they really go hand in hand. Any investment in education risks being wasted if there are not accompanying investments in the student’s nutritional needs'
With food programs recently donations have been focused on three main areas:
Term time for the children
One of the major obstacles the schools is facing right now is feeding the children. At present lunch is provided to the children, however as the schools continue to expand in the number of children attending each day, the lunches are becoming more and more watered down as they struggle to accommodate everyone. It is quite common for a volunteer to come home saying that their students had complained that, despite having eaten, they were still hungry. The most common cause of primary school drop-out in Kenya is hunger. If schools cannot provide lunch for the children this has a detrimental effect on the students being able to concentrate on learning for the entire day, and being able to focus on lessons proves too much. Consequently they end up dropping out before they reach high school age.
For many students, the meal given at the schools are their one guaranteed meal of the day. With this additional money being used for the lunches, the school is able to bulk up the food and give the children a more substantial meal, thus allowing them to be able to concentrate, resulting in increased academic performance. Furthermore, the increased nutritious meals served will improve the health of these students. Lack of adequate nutrition results in compromised immune systems which is a concern particularly for these children as a) they do not have access to medical facilities due to lack of funds and b) do not live in hygienic conditions. The extra food they receive each day will go a long way to improve their health. The children are livelier and happier with food in their bellies each day, a benefit which is impossible to put a money value on!
During the April holidays lunch was provided for the children the schools, Monday to Friday. This was done to encourage them to come to school for a number of reasons: 1) to get extra tuition 2) to keep them out of trouble - with nothing much to occupy them in the slum, the children out of boredom often fall into a bad crowd as they get older; and 3) to ensure they ate that day – the majority of the children at the schools come from impoverished families. The result was phenomenal: 150 children were turning up each day as opposed to the 40-50 children that have turned up in past holiday programmes.
In June 2011, a medical camp was held at the Olives school to provide free professional medical advice and treatment to the Bomboluluu community. Despite the bad weather this was a successful and busy day. Approximately 500 people from the local village were seen by the doctors, nurses and professional medically trained volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to help local people that would not be in a position to afford to pay for this professional service. Donations to this project helped to provide the volunteer helpers with a basic lunch.
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