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Two Girls Demonstrate Power Of School Meals

©WFP/Gabriella Menezes and Rose Ogola
Fatuma (left) and Nyipher (right) both know what it’s like to try to study on an empty stomach.

As the world marks International Women’s Day this week, two East African girls called Fatuma and Nyipher are working hard to ensure they get the education they need to become the sort of women who won’t need food aid in the future. Both of their life stories involve the timely arrival of nutritious school meals.

NAIROBI -- Fatuma, a 16-year old refugee from Somalia, has fought her way out of Africa’s biggest refugee camp and into one of Africa’s best schools. Nyipher, who comes from the Nairobi slums, used to fall asleep in class but now has great grades and is thinking about going to university to become a judge.

If they keep on studying, these two girls are poised to grow into strong, independent women who will be able to keep themselves and their families out of hunger - permanently. Their stories reflect a central theme for International Women's Day, empowering women through education.

“We used to drink porridge in class, and it helped us,” says Fatuma, remembering the lessons atthe refugee camp. ”In Dadaab you depend on that food.” Learn more about Fatuma.

Career as doctor

Fatuma’s mother insisted her daughter go to school every day in the Dadaab refugee camp. There, with the help of the nutritious food she received every day, she learned enough to win a scholarship to Kenya’s top girls’ school. She’s now in Form 3 and thinking of a career as a doctor. At her age, many Somali girls are married.

Nyipher is 14 and studying at the New Adventure school in Nairobi. She remembers when she was 10 she was only eating one meal a day, in the evenings. In the mornings she had a cup of tea and then went to school. Predictably her grades weren’t great.

“I was so hungry I could hardly even think,” she says. “Then they started serving lunch at school and suddenly, things changed.” Learn more about Nyipher.

In developing countries, poor parents often don't or can't send girls to school. Especially when times are tough, they may be kept at home and help put food on the table. Providing meals in school, and also take-home rations, is one way of drawing more girls to school, where they can learn and thrive. An investment in the next generation. Learn  more about school meals.


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