about the author
Para Hunzai is a Pakistani national working with WFP in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Coming from an indigent family, and having been born with a hearing impairment, it has been a struggle for 12-year-old Nat to attend school. WFP's Food Scholarship programme helped changed that.
She was born with a hearing impairment. Twelve-year-old Nat explains, “When I was in grade three, I remember going to school on an empty stomach and I could not concentrate on what the teacher was saying, nor hear her properly”.
Nat’s parents struggled to grow enough food on their half a hectare of land, so they often moved as migrant laborers, leaving her and her two siblings with their grandmother. “Nat’s medical expenses put a lot of strain on our meager income, making it hard for us to live from hand to mouth every day,” says her grandmother.
However, two years ago, things changed. Under WFP’s School Feeding Programme, Nat was able to avail of a “Food Scholarship” wherein she could receive a monthly foor ration of 10kg of rice as long as she attended school. The monthly take-home ration was also complemented by WFP’s daily school breakfast which Nat and other students received every morning before their classes started.
As a result, Nat has now completed two levels of primary school. “Now I am no longer hungry in school, and if I can’t hear what the teacher says, I ask my friends to explain it to me,” Nat says enthusiastically. Consequently, thanks to the savings arising from her take-home food rations, Nat’s family has been able to take her to a doctor and get medications. She now hears a little better.
“I am very grateful for the Food Scholarship because without it I would have to work in the fields to help my family. One day I want to become a doctor so I can help sick children like me and so that I can give my family a better life,” shares Nat.