The province is rich in gas reserves, but the people who live there are very poor and do not benefit from such wealth. This has caused tension and led to some insurgent groups wreaking violence on innocent families. According to the World Food Programme, with whom JAM has partnered, more than 700 000 people have been displaced in what is becoming one of the “world’s fastest-growing displacement crises” and a “hunger emergency”.
Innocent people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their crops and animals. Many have lost members of their families too.
Some have been fortunate enough to find refuge in internally displaced people’s camps. JAM has been on the ground here, providing emergency relief in the form of shelter, food, water and hygiene facilities. Of course, all of this had been made worse by traumatic climatic events such as cyclones, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Sometimes there is no food at home,” Isabel explains. Although her grandmother gets a small grant from the government each month, it is never enough and does not last very long.
But Isabel is focused on the hope she sees in the red bowl of porridge she receives at her school each morning.
“My grades improve when I can get food from the school. I think school is important,” she says.
Although the worry of where their next meal will come from is ever present, the school feeding programme does allow her to think of a future. She wants to learn.
At ForAfrika we have seen and understand the irrefutable link between nutrition and education. We know that malnutrition causes physical and mental stunting. We know that hunger impairs attention and the ability of children to concentrate. We know that with the right nutrition, children have a better chance of realising their full potential and contributing meaningfully to society and the economy.
We know that getting vital vitamins and minerals can quite literally turn a child’s life around. We also know that a bowl of food keeps children, like Isabel, coming to school.
The greatest gift you can give a child is an education. Nelson Mandela said it was the most powerful weapon you could use to change the world. We say, the simplest way to get started is by feeding a child this Christmas. A red bowl of JAM porridge keeps tummies full and children in school.