Eliza Sabolo receives daily school meals from WFP Zambia. Copyright: WFP/Michelle Hunsberger
WFP Zambia is providing school meals to 300,000 children in 829 schools in the country. School meals encourage children from poor households to go to school, stay in class and learn. Meet a 15 year-old pupil, Eliza Sabolo, who has as a result been able to learn and keep her dream of becoming of journalist alive. From 2011, the School Meals programme will be graduated into the Home Grown School Feeding initiative that will feed 1 million children in conjunction with the Zambian Government under the Ministry of Education.
Fifteen year old Eliza Sabolo remembers a time when she went without food for two days because there was nothing to eat at home. However, this changed four years ago when she began receiving food at school under the World Food Programme (WFP) School Meals Programme. Eliza is happy to have gone to Rosamystica Open Community School in Lusaka.
Every morning, Eliza wakes up at 05:00 a.m. and sets out to do her daily chores. She fetches water from a nearby communal tap, sweeps the house and then baths before finally making her way to school. It takes her about 20 minutes to walk to school.
Around 11 o’clock, Eliza takes a break from her Grade 7 studies to help with the distribution of hot meals to younger schoolmates. She hands out utensils as the younger pupils wait in line to receive their daily portion of the porridge made from High Energy Protein Supplement (HEPS) and vegetable oil.
Once the younger students have fed, older students, such as Eliza, also get their share of the food. Eliza always looks forward to going to school so that she can have some food. She is also happy that she can learn and relaise her dream of becoming a journalist and news anchor.
According to Eliza, the meals have made a big difference in both her physical appearance and ability to learn.
“My hair used to be brown blonde, but now it’s black. Even my body, I was thin. I was not fat like now,” she says while poking a finger into her arm.
Staying in school and learning consistently has improved Eliza’s academic performance. She has improved her grades from an average of 4/10 to now 10/10.
“I was feeling weak for so long, but now I can do anything. I learn better and my marks have improved,” she says smiling.
On days when Eliza does not go to school, she has little from home to fill her stomach. Most Sundays consist of two small meals consisting of nshima and tea.
Thankful for the food assistance WFP provides, Eliza’s father encourages her to go to school.