One of the things that makes school special for 9-year-old Naifath is the morning parade. Each day at 7:30, the children of Mfuru Primary School in Tanzania gather outside. As they march around the grounds, their teacher calls roll, and each child loudly proclaims their attendance. Some children take it seriously. Some giggle through it. Either way, it makes Naifath glad she walked 20 minutes to school. It’s one of the shorter walks she has to make.
The little girl lives with her mom, dad and brother in an area outside the community of Kisware. Their home is about a 30-minute walk away from the main road that leads into the town center. It’s quite a distance to the local market or government offices, and there are rough, muddy roads that make travel during the rainy season almost impossible, even by car.
Naifath’s family is one of the lucky ones – their home is made of sturdy concrete and bricks. But there are dirt floors and no electricity or running water. To get water, Naifath and her mom walk about an hour to the nearest well in the valley.
The community is almost exclusively made up of farmers or those who work in the agriculture industry. Naifath’s parents are also in the industry – they make and sell palm oil. But their work brings in less than $200 a year.
“My husband and I work hard every day to try to get at least two meals a day for our children, and we thank God when we can have those two meals,” Naifath’s mother said.
This is why her mom puts a big emphasis on getting Naifath to school each day – the school provides lunch for free, thanks to donors like you.
“Many of us did not get breakfast at home, and that is why the school meal program is our only hope to survive through the classes,” Naifath said. “The school meal program saves me from hunger pangs until in the evening when I will have dinner at home. I love going to school!”
Having a meal at school is a major incentive for parents to keep their children in class. While primary school is free to all children in Tanzania, the costs of uniforms, books and other programs can sometimes put the price of education out of reach for some families. Other families are so desperate for income they put their children to work.
“We thank you for the school meal program at Mfuru Primary School because our children get to stay longer in school. Without this project, we would have a tough job coping with the situation we face,” Niafath’s mom told us.
With a free meal awaiting a child at school, many parents are encouraged, knowing their kids will eat at least one meal that day. The feeding program is changing the community’s perspective in Naifath’s area.
“To a great extent, Feed the Children’s programs have been a wake-up call to our community, and most of us believe in building a strong foundation for our children’s educational life through their time at school. Although it is hard for everyone to afford their children’s wellbeing, each day the community realizes the importance of our future generation,” her mother said.
Thanks to generous donors like you, this community has received so much more. The school now has water tanks. The water is used for preparing the children’s lunch and for handwashing. The school also has a cattle program, where the children learn to care for the animals. But there’s an extra treat that comes from the program that Naifath particularly loves.
“We have cow feeding schedules so that we can get milk from them which is usually mixed in our porridge, and milk makes us healthy and strong.”
Milk is also sold to people in the surrounding area, bringing in some money to buy essential items at school.
Making a community sustainable is an important part of Feed the Children programming. It’s an aspect that Naifath’s family takes very seriously.
“We are thankful and acknowledge all the projects at the school have been implemented. This has not only helped reduce truancy but also our children become healthy and strong and stay longer in school. We will do our best to keep everything well and modify where need be because at the end of the day all these projects are for the benefit of our children. As part of the teachers and parents committee, we always remind other parents about the importance of Feed the Children in our community and how we should be able to continue the legacy at Mfuru Primary School,” her mom said.
While her mother is deeply committed to continuing to watch all the community’s children flourish, Naifath is committed to hollering her name as strong and loud as she possibly can at the next morning parade. And even though she doesn’t smile too big in pictures (she’s just not used to photographs), we hope you can feel her joy in that moment. Thank you for giving Naifath and so many other children not only food but the ability to feel pure joy.