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Cape Verde: School-Meals Girl Now A Career Woman

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©WFP/Mercedes Sayagues
Vera (centre) with a group of her classmates on the steps of the elementary school in Praia where the WFP school meals programme got her education on its way.

In 1990, seven-year-old Vera Tavares starred in a WFP documentary about the nutritious lunches that were keeping her in school. Today, sheís a college educated career woman able to support her mother and put her brother through university. Vera tells us how those simple school meals made it all possible. Watch video

A long time has passed since you were a little girl eating school meals. Apart from growing up, what else has changed for you since then?
My life has changed a lot, mainly because I was able to keep studying and get my degree in business and economics at university. Now I work as an accountant at the Ministry of Education.

What do you remember about going to school when you were younger? Do you have any recollections of eating school lunches?
I remember them well. Still today, whenever I see kids eating their lunches at school, it reminds me of when I was little and did the same. I was always hungry when I came to school, but then I would eat my afternoon meal and it would give me the strength to keep on going.

Do you think you would have been able to continue your studies at university if you hadnít been able to eat at school?
I donít think so. Like I said, I often used to go to school hungry. Sometimes, I went just for the meal. Iíd have a snack before class started and another when they let out at 3:30 in the afternoon. Those meals gave me the energy to concentrate on my studies instead of my stomach.

 

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Things were hard for your family when you were growing up. Are they better now?
Things are much better now. I am working and have a good salary, so Iím able to help my mother. Iíve also made sacrifices to help my brother, Gilson, who is studying at university. So things are a lot better at home.

What about your free time? What do you like to do when youíre not working?
When Iím not working, I like to roam around Praia (the capital of Cape Verde), spend time with my friends and watch television. On Sundays, we often go to the beach; we have beautiful beaches in Cape Verde. Iíd also like to travel and visit countries like Italy, France or Brazil. I canít afford it right now, but I will be able to one day.

What does the future look like for you? When we talk again in 10 years time, what do you hope to be doing?
I am 28 years old now. In 10 years, I want to have a family of my own. I want to get married and have my own children, and my own house.

Things were hard for your family when you were growing up. Are they better now?
Things are much better now. I am working and have a good salary, so Iím able to help my mother. Iíve also made sacrifices to help my brother, Gilson, who is studying at university. So things are a lot better at home.

What about your free time? What do you like to do when youíre not working?
When Iím not working, I like to roam around Praia (the capital of Cape Verde), spend time with my friends and watch television. On Sundays, we often go to the beach; we have beautiful beaches in Cape Verde. Iíd also like to travel and visit countries like Italy, France or Brazil. I canít afford it right now, but I will be able to one day.

What does the future look like for you? When we talk again in 10 years time, what do you hope to be doing?
I am 28 years old now. In 10 years, I want to have a family of my own. I want to get married and have my own children, and my own house.


 

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Related links
Click here to watch Vera Goes To School