February 20th was a very special day for the children at the Murakaza school in Bujumbura, Burundi.

After weeks of hard work, the school uniforms were finally ready for all the students. This was an occasion to celebrate!

I was lucky enough to be there to witness it all, as the “uniform party” was conveniently timed for my visit. The look on the children’s face when they received their very own uniform was priceless.

Kids at Murakaza school receiving their new school uniforms

Kids at Murakaza School receiving their new school uniforms.

That was just the beginning though, thanks to kind donations from the French Consulate of Bujumbura and the Café Gourmand, which has been supporting the project for quite some time, the children also received some food.

And it wouldn’t be a real party without confetti and some dancing and singing. Who knew the cheap confetti bought at the Chinese supermarket would be such a hit! My ears are still ringing from all the excitement and joy.

Distributing food to over 200 children in a short amount of time is quite a task which required all hands on desk. I started with cutting the baguette, but Francoise pointed out that my parts weren’t equal: “You can’t do this, she said. Some will have a smaller piece, that’s not fair.” I thought she might be exaggerating a little, but when I realised how hungry the children were and how grateful they were for that piece of bread, I understood that a few bites make a big difference when you haven’t had a proper meal in a few days.

Kids at Murakaza school eating

Hunger is a huge problem at Murakaza. The students come from very poor households where putting food on the table is a daily struggle. Some of them don’t eat even one meal per day. The teachers can tell immediately: they can spot a child who isn’t properly fed by how they behave in class. They will be tired, half asleep during class and incapable of playing around with the others during the breaks. Sometimes, they can’t even find the strength to go back home and the staff have to find a little something for them to have enough energy for the journey home.

Every time I handed out a piece of bread, I got “Merci” in response, that resonated with so much heartfelt gratitude that my heart sank a little. It is quite striking to see how so  little can go such a long way.

This is why we want to start the Food Bank project which will allow Murakaza to provide a daily snack made of fortified porridge (a flour with all the vitamins and minerals the children need). Can you believe that it would only cost about £24 per year per child?! That’s right, with just £2 per month, we could stop a child from going hungry. If you’d like to make this commitment and start sponsoring a child’s food, please visit our “Food Bank” appeal and sign up for direct debit.

With just £2 per month, you could really save a child from hunger.

Food Bank Appeal

Sylvia Costantini is the CEO of Bread and Water for Africa UK.

Contact | Profile