Filling Minds and Stomachs

At Bread and Water for AFrica UK we believe that children cannot learn on an empty stomach. We are convinced that good nutrition is one of the keys to an active mind and therefore we have been supporting school feeding programmes in Burundi and Sierra Leone for several years.

Burundi

We’ve been supporting the Murakaza School in Burundi, run by CAPE (Centre d’Aide et de Protection de l’Enfant) since 2012, which provides free schooling for 260 children aged 3 to 12.

Following her visit to Murakaza last year Bread and Water for Africa UK's CEO Sylvia Costantini reported on CAPE’s new programme to provide free breakfasts for children at the School: “What CAPE is achieving in such a difficult environment is inspiring. The children are really grateful to be in school and are so keen to learn”, she said, ”but it’s painfully apparent how hungry and under-nourished many are. Some parents are just too poor to feed their families. Teachers told me the ones who are really hungry fall asleep in class and don’t have the energy to play during recess.”

Child at Murakaza School falling asleep

In order to combat this problem, the school came up with the idea of providing every child with a bowl of porridge, fortified with extra vitamins and minerals for breakfast each day.

When Sylvia returned to the UK, Bread and Water for Africa UK started fundraising for the ‘Porridge project’, and by the summer we had raised enough money to equip a small food preparation area, eating utensils for the children and, of course, porridge and vital supplements.

On the 28th September 2018, the kitchen started operating and the first batch of porridge was served. Francoise Najean, who runs CAPE described how “It was a big surprise for the children, who didn’t expect it. It is astonishing to see the difference: the children are healthier, more focused and less absent due to illnesses”. 

Nursery pupils at the Murakaza school in Bujumbura, Burundi, eat their daily bowl of fortified porridge

Sierra Leone’s kitchen garden – an example to all

Last November David Randall, a travel writer, visited the We Are the Future project in Sierra Leone. He describes a kitchen garden the school has set up to provide a daily meal for the children at the School.

“John [Donald Sandy, who runs WAF] explained how the garden is going. He said that the aubergines, beans, sweet potato and many more were all foods that not only served as staples within the school lunches, but also functioned as local produce, sold to restaurants and hotels. The plot even had iceberg lettuce growing which, although unpopular among locals, is relatively easy to grow and is a valuable commodity in some restaurants in Aberdeen.

Paul and Emmanuel, students at the We Are the Future school in Freetown, Sierra Leone, show off the tomatoes grown in the school garden

They had organically treated the soil in an effort to make more fertile compost too, and this had been achieved by pulverised coconut shell. There was palpable pride at these endeavours and rightly so. An irrigation system had been carefully planned and the plants were protected from birds and other scavengers in a large covering which also simulated a greenhouse.

By the time we had toured around the plot the lunchtime break had begun. We headed over to the kitchen area where we met the lively ladies responsible for feeding hundreds of hungry mouths. A good system was in order to allow for class by class dining, each taking their turn to come up to the tables as the rest of the school played under the trees. It was comforting to know that with the allotment on site and these avuncular trees leaning over to provide shade, the children had a green place to learn and play, away from traffic and industrial noise.”

Ladies who cook in the We Are the Future kids kitchen project in Freetown, Sierra Leone