Ding, Ding, Ding! The bell rang at 12:40 pm and everyone at the Usingo Primary School knew what this sound signaled…lunch time!!! Students ran out of classrooms to form two lines in front of the kitchen. Empty plastic bowls in every hand, were soon to be filled with a colorful mixture of corn and beans. As each student received his or her meal, they found a place to munch…the older students clustered across the front field to gain some quiet space and the younger ones skipped around and eventually settled under nearby trees. Smiles spread rampantly and energy heightened steadily. Three cooks stood attentively to ensure that every student was offered a hearty meal. Slowly but surely, the satisfied students trickled back into classrooms to finish class for the remainder of the school day. This is the Usingo Feeding Program at work.
What are the effects of the daily distribution of 150 grams of maize and 40 grams of beans to each of the 413 students at the Usingo Primary School? The population of the school expanded by nearly 200 students, two students were accepted to a national school (one of which was the only boy to be admitted out of 20 schools in Siaya county), all but one of the graduates were accepted to secondary schools, the chance of a student attending a university has increased significantly, and the anthropometric measurements of all students currently meet the national average. What encouraging statistics about the effects of the Usingo Feeding Program since its implementation in October 2012.
Everlyne Mwalo has been hired as a nutritionist for both the Ashburn-Ohuru Medical Clinic and the Usingo Primary School feeding program. Alisa, Margaret and I spent time with Everlyne today as we watched the Usingo Feeding Program in action; we sought Everlyne’s wisdom about the proper nourishment of communities like Usingo. A bright, innovative young lady, Everlyne is committed to the improvement of health, including the quantity, quality and hygiene of food, among the Usingo Primary School students.
It is exciting to see a program create such change among a community! “This is where these children have been planted, but they are finding joy,” Margaret said as she reflected upon the day and shared a story of a favorite little one she met named Moses. The Usingo Feeding Program is not only keeping students in school throughout the course of the day, but this program is a providing a firm foundation for the trajectory of these students’ futures.
*Becca Vinson is a fellow with Passion Partners through the Nashville Fellows Program. Becca is currently in Africa with other members of the Passion Partners staff.