Feeding Young Minds In Rural Swaziland
Nothando Dlamini (cream T-shirt) is one of 28 orphans and other vulnerable children who visit Mtsambatsi neighbourhood care point (NCP) every weekday. They get two nutritious meals a day made with ingredients supplied by WFP. An only child, Nothando (3) lives with her HIV+ mother. Her father has left home.
Mtsambatsi is one of 260 NCPs in the country that WFP provides with food assistance. Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate with 26 per cent of the workforce infected. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 vulnerable children in the country, including 70,000 AIDS orphans.
Nokuphila (3) is one of eight children. Both her parents are HIV+ and on anti-retroviral treatment. They have no regular source of income though the mother sometimes sells fruit. The caregivers say Nokuphila was thin and listless when she first came to the NCP but that now she is much more playful.
For lunch, the children get maize meal and yellow split peas cooked in vegetable oil. WFP also supplies Super Cereal (fortified corn soya blend) which is cooked and served for breakfast. Studies show that children from households affected by HIV/AIDS are more likely to be malnourished.
Busisiwe Tsabedze is one of three caregivers who work on a rota at Mtsambatsi NCP. They get monthly take-home rations of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil – enough to cater for a family of six. Cooking facilities are hardly state-of-the-art. Water comes from a pump in the school grounds and is fetched in jerrycans.
Like many children from AIDS-affected homes in Swaziland, Lwethu Ndwandwe (green T-shirt) is looked after by his grandmother. Older ones often head households and care for younger siblings on their own. Lwethu (4) and his five-year old sister receive weekend visits from their HIV+ mother who works in town. Their father is dead.
Khetha Mgadule (in striped T-shirt) may now be full of beans but, when the six-year old first came to the NCP, he had little energy. He and his two sisters live with their great grandmother as their HIV+ parents do not have the means to care for them. Their 83-year old great grandmother lives on a small farm a stone’s throw from the NCP.
Simanga Mathobela (left front), one of two children, also lives with his grandmother. Their HIV+ mother works in South Africa, their father has left home. In addition to the meals they receive, the children also get elementary school lessons, psycho-social support and immunizations at the NCP.
WFP provides food so that daily hot meals can be served to vulnerable children - many of whom have lost a parent or parents to AIDS - at pre-school centres known as Neighbourhood Care Points. Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world.