The Australian Ambassador to Mexico, Katrina Cooper, visited Nicaragua and I had the honor of accompanying her to a remote rural area to witness how funds from the Australian Government are helping the WFP´s school feeding programme transform the lives of many of the nation’s poorest children.
The 112 students from Las Joyas Primary School greeted the Australian Ambassador and the WFP team, led by Country Director, Helmut W Rauch, with flowers and smiling faces. They represent some of the 75,708 children in Nicaragua that have benefited from the $3 million provided by the Australian government over the last three years.
WFP has works side by side with the Ministry of Education´s Programa Integral de Nutrición Escolar (PINE or Integral Programme for School Nutrition), which ensures that children throughout the country receive a nutritious meal each day consisting of traditional food such as rice, beans, tortilla, fortified cereal and vegetable oil. Not only does this ease the strain on household finances, but it adds to the nutritional standing of the children, improves attentiveness in the classroom, as well as increases school attendance. All the teachers agree that the kids are at their best after mealtime.
The Mothers Are The Champions
The mothers of Las Joyas Primary School are the real champions of the programme.Together they share the responsibility of preparing meals on a rotating system carefully coordinated by the teachers. It all helps to bring this community closer together by ensuring that kids that study together eat together. Las Joyas is located in one of the poorest and driest provinces of the country: Matagalpa. Some 90% of families are landless and survive on subsistence farming on small rented plots. Life is tough, conditions are basic and the area suffers from some of the highest levels of undernutrition in the country.
Much of the finances provided by the Australian Government have been used in the “twinning” model to pay for transport and distribution costs for food from other donor nations like Brazil. So far WFP has been able to buy 4,940 metric tons of food. We all sincerely thank the Australian Government for their ongoing support.