“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor so that I can help sick people get well. I am working hard in school to do this and I thank the World Food Programme because I can concentrate on my studies because I am not hungry.” This is what Ricky Otieno had to tell London’s Young Times when they called him recently for an interview.
14 year old Ricky is an orphan having lost both parents to HIV/AIDs about 6 yrs ago. He lives with an Aunt in Kibera and they are 9 in the family. Ricky is himself HIV positive and is on anti-retroviral therapy. He goes to Stara School, one of the schools supported by C4K in Kenya through the school meals programme. In addition to the WFP school meal, he is also a beneficiary of the WFP nutrition support programme for families infected or affected by HIV. Through this programme, his family gets corn-soya blend (a flour made from corn and soya) and vegetable oil fortified with with vitamins which provide him with a nutritious porridge in the morning before he goes to school and which is important for his medication. His aunt earns money by doing odd jobs such as washing other people's clothes, which is not everyday. From this she earns Ksh 100 which is about usd 1.25 which is barely enough to feed her large family and when she does not get a job, they sleep hungry.
“The food I get in school gives me energy which is important to because I take very strong medication which makes me weak,” says Ricky. “It very difficult when we close school because I am not always assured of a meal at home,” he adds.
Ricky is doing is final year in primary school and will do the national examination on 9-12 November. His teachers are very optimistic that he will pass this examination since he is the best student. Their concern, however, is how he will pay for his high school education which unlike primary education, is not free.