Every day, millions of children take a giant step out of poverty simply by going to school. But no child can take that step on an empty stomach. It takes nutritious food for them to be able to learn and grow up healthy.
But what happens to those children when they grow up? We caught up with nine of them to find out.
9 kids who beat hunger
The Marathon Runner
Before winning two Olympic medals and smashing the marathon world record, Paul Tergat was a student in Kenya’s impoverished Rift Valley. He says the school meals he received as boy played a crucial role in unlocking his athletic talent. Tergat is now a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, advocating on behalf of hungry school children around the world. Find out more
Polio and poverty meant Apollinaire Gahungu had a difficult start to life. But things began to look up when he was sent to a WFP-supported school in Bujumbura, Burundi, where he graduated at the head of his class. Today Apollinaire is a communications specialist working for the Embassy of South Africa in Burundi, with a successful career as a journalist behind him. Find out more
The Mountain Climber
It was a long route to the top of Everest for Nim Doma Sherpa, but she reckons it started when her parents sent her to school simply to get the free lunches supplied by WFP. “At first, my parents sent me to school so that I could eat lunch, but gradually I became interested in learning,” she said. After achieving her dream of climbing the highest mountain in the world in 2008, Nim Doma now plans on climbing the tallest peaks on all seven continents. Find out more
Dungkar Drupka runs WFP’s food assistance operations in the south Asian nation of Bhutan. In this article he describes his impoverished childhood in a mountain village and his exit from poverty thanks to nutritious food and a good education. He also talks about a conversation he had with a school boy he met many years later, while he was visiting a remote school as WFP representative. "I think we have a choice to make this world of ours better," Dungkar says. Find out more
The Education Minister
When she was a child, Lesotho’s education minister was herself a beneficiary of the school meals programme at her local school. Now that she’s part of her country’s government, she’s doing all she can to ensure that kids in her country get the same advantage. Some 1,500 schools in Lesotho have school meals. “I’m a good example of what school meals can achieve," the minister says. Find out more
The Career Woman
In 1990, seven-year-old Vera Tavares starred in a WFP documentary about the nutritious lunches that were keeping her in school. Today, she’s a college educated career woman able to support her mother and put her brother through university. Vera tells us how those simple school meals helped her break the cycle of hunger and poverty and become an independent career woman. Find out more
The Star Student
As teenagers around the world think glumly about the return to school, there’s one in Kenya who sees her return as a triumph. And it is. After being raised in the world’s largest refugee camp, Fatuma Omar beat the odds to win a scholarship to Nairobi’s best girls’ school. She's already thinking about college, where she wants to study medicine and become a doctor. Find out more.
The Aid Worker
Kekeletso Mabeleng remembers vividly how she enjoyed getting WFP school meals when she was a small child in a poor district of Lesotho. Now, as an adult, she works for WFP helping make sure today’s children get the same benefits she did. She has been with WFP for eight years and works as a senior programme assistant, implementing nutrition and health programmes with the government. Find out more
The WFP Driver
Wilson Ereng, a driver for WFP in Kenya, went to school for the first time when his family’s livestock died and there was nothing to eat at home. The promise of WFP food kept him going to school for the next ten years and meant that he received an education. Here’s how he remembers those years. Find out more