Fighting hunger is not a one off activity. It begins with digging firm foundations, empowering communities and calling on each of them to commit themselves to establishing the necessary processes to keep hunger at bay.
Nyarusange Primary school is one such institution that has brought to surface the efforts of getting rid of hunger.
With a total enrolment of 476 pupils, Nyarusange Primary School, in Kamushi village, Nyarusange in the Rwabicumi Sector of Nyanza District has been critical for the basic education of the surrounding community. ActionAid began supporting the school in 2000, and has since built all 10 of its classrooms, along with 6 toilets, 2 water tanks, 200 desks, and a sports ground. The organization has also donated 2 cows to the school.
With high levels of poverty in the area, many of the students suffer from hunger and malnutrition. There is currently no school feeding program other than the milk provided by the cows provided by ActionAid. The school receives RwF800,000 per semester through a government grant, which is used to purchase materials, train teachers, and pay the guards. The school has petitioned for increased funding, but the government has responded by saying that there is no additional funding available, and has suggested that the school searches for further support through fundraising.
Although Nyarusange Primary School currently 2 cows, the headmaster, Abias Twagirumukiza, 38, says the impact this has had on pupils is considerable.
Milk recipients are selected according to the family situation and health of the children, with priority given to those who are malnourished.
Since the school has had milk available, Abias has noticed a lower incidence of illness, a reduction in the drop-out rate and an increase in attendance, with absenteeism dropping from 10% to 2%. The cows are also providing fertilizer for a school garden of vegetables, beans and maize.
Jackson Twishime is a 16-year-old pupil at the school, studying in primary 6. From a family of 5 children, his mother is a farmer, cultivating sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava. The family has very little monetary income, and Jackson sometimes eats just one meal per day.
Claudette Shimwe, a student in primary 5, is also from a family that lives with food insecurity. She says that she and her 4 siblings rarely eat anything other than beans and potatoes, and frequently miss meals. Both of them are benefitting from the milk provided at the school. Even though they receive servings just twice a week, they notice a difference in the way they feel. They both report that they are not getting sick as easily as before, and are able to concentrate better in school.
Still, the children hope for further improvements. Claudette dreams of having enough food at home and a cow for milk, and Jackson hopes that Nyarusange will be able to have a school feeding program.