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9 Kids Who Beat Hunger And Grew Up To Be Heroes

A journalist, a mountain climber, a government minister and an Olympic marathon runner. What do they have in common? All of them got an education with the help of WFP’s school meals programme. Thanks to those lunches, they were able to focus on their studies and stay in school. They are just a few examples of the potential a simple meal can unlock.

ROME—Every day, millions of children take a giant step out of poverty simply by going to school. But no child can take that step on an empty stomach. It takes nutritious food for them to be able to learn and grow up healthy.

But what happens to those children when they grow up? We caught up with nine of them to find out.

The Marathon Runner

paul tergat running with children from his kenyan village

Before winning two Olympic medals and smashing the marathon world record, Paul Tergat was a student in Kenya’s impoverished Rift Valley. He says the school meals he received as boy played a crucial role in unlocking his athletic talent. Tergat is now a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, advocating on behalf of hungry school children around the world. Find out more

The Journalist

Apollinaire Gahungu

Polio and poverty meant Apollinaire Gahungu had a difficult start to life. But things began to look up when he was sent to a WFP-supported school in Bujumbura, Burundi, where he graduated at the head of his class. Today Apollinaire is a communications specialist working for the Embassy of South Africa in Burundi, with a successful career as a journalist behind him.  Find out more

The Mountain Climber

Nim Doma Sherpa posing at the top of a mountain

It was a long route to the top of Everest for Nim Doma Sherpa, but she reckons it started when her parents sent her to school simply to get the free lunches supplied by WFP. “At first, my parents sent me to school so that I could eat lunch, but gradually I became interested in learning,” she said. After achieving her dream of climbing the highest mountain in the world in 2008, Nim Doma now plans on climbing the tallest peaks on all seven continents. Find out more

The Humanitarian

Dungkar Drupka sitting on the ground with a small child

Dungkar Drupka runs WFP’s food assistance operations in the south Asian nation of Bhutan. In this article he describes his impoverished childhood in a mountain village and his exit from poverty thanks to nutritious food and a good education. He also talks about a conversation he had with a school boy he met many years later, while he was visiting a remote school as WFP representative. "I think we have a choice to make this world of ours better," Dungkar says. Find out more

The Education Minister

the education minister close-upWhen she was a child, Lesotho’s education minister was herself a beneficiary of the school meals programme at her local school. Now that she’s part of her country’s government, she’s doing all she can to ensure that kids in her country get the same advantage. Some 1,500 schools in Lesotho have school meals. “I’m a good example of what school meals can achieve," the minister says. Find out more

The Career Woman

Vera Tavares amongst other children on the stairsIn 1990, seven-year-old Vera Tavares starred in a WFP documentary about the nutritious lunches that were keeping her in school. Today, she’s a college educated career woman able to support her mother and put her brother through university. Vera tells us how those simple school meals helped her break the cycle of hunger and poverty and become an independent career woman. Find out more

The Star Student

Fatuma Omar smilingAs teenagers around the world think glumly about the return to school, there’s one in Kenya who sees her return as a triumph. And it is. After being raised in the world’s largest refugee camp, Fatuma Omar beat the odds to win a scholarship to Nairobi’s best girls’ school. She's already thinking about college, where she wants to study medicine and become a doctor. Find out more.

The Aid Worker

Kekeletso Mabeleng smiling, close-upKekeletso Mabeleng remembers vividly how she enjoyed getting WFP school meals when she was a small child in a poor district of Lesotho. Now, as an adult, she works for WFP helping make sure today’s children get the same benefits she did. She has been with WFP for eight years and works as a senior programme assistant, implementing nutrition and health programmes with the government. Find out more

The WFP Driver

Wilson Ereng in front of a wfp truckWilson Ereng, a driver for WFP in Kenya, went to school for the first time when his family’s livestock died and there was nothing to eat at home. The promise of WFP food kept him going to school for the next ten years and meant that he received an education. Here’s how he remembers those years. Find out more


MollyMeet Molly

Molly's a girl from Kenya and she'd like to show you how she lives. After you get to know her, take a shot at the quiz and feed a child just like Molly! Are you up to the challenge to make a difference in someone's life this World Food Day?