Nine year old Ferdousi is a student at Vasentec School in Mirpur Slum in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Like many people living in the slum, Ferdousi and her family struggle daily to eat a healthy diet.
In a place where lives are characterized by uncertainty, the regular provision of fortified biscuits through WFP and USDA ensures that parents continue to send their children to school, and that these children receive a daily dose of minerals and vitamins vital for the proper development of brain and body.
“As it is Ramadan, I’m fasting and will break my fast with the biscuits,” says Ferdousi. “I like the biscuits very much. I had milk and rice in the early morning for my Shehri (last meal of the night before fasting).”
Ferdousi’s father, who has remarried, left her mother when she was very young. She hardly remembers anything about her father. Her mother, Parul Begum, stopped working four years ago when she fell sick and remains unable to work. Since then, both her brother (18) and sister (16) have started working in a garment factory to support the family.
The extreme economic stress faced by families in Dhaka’s urban slums often leads to a rise in malnutrition as families are unable to provide their children with enough nutritious food.
“Many children are forced to work or collect food to support their families and therefore never return to school. Against such backdrop, School Feeding has an important role to play,” says teacher Hosne Ara Begum.
Ferdousi enjoys going to school, not only for her lessons but also to play with her friends. She usually gets to eat rice and mashed potato for breakfast, but she explains that on some mornings her mother doesn’t cook simply because there is “no rice in the house”. When they don't have enough money, her family often skips meals.
The fortified biscuits being provided through WFP’s School Feeding programme are ensuring that Ferdousi and the other children in the school get the nutritional support they need to learn. The education that Ferdousi receives will in turn assist her to prepare her own future. “I would like to be a teacher to serve the community and provide good education to all poor children,” says Ferdousi.