Now a driver for WFP in Kenya, school meals motivated Wilson Ereng to attend school for the first time. <Copyright: WFP/Gerald Atisa>
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.
NAIROBI -- I was born in a pastoral community in the arid, northwest region of Kenya. The community is always moving here and there in search of water and pasture for their livestock. When I was six years old, the majority of my parents’ livestock died due to a drought that hit the area and they were left with few animals.
As I was the first-born, my mother forced me to walk to a nearby school so that I could get something to eat and bring some home for my younger brother and my sisters. This is how I started my schooling. I used to go and hide in a nearby bush until the other pupils were ready for lunch, and then I would chip in and join them.
One day I was caught by the teacher who was on duty. I was chased away and told that if I needed food, I should be attending classes like all the other pupils so that I could get a school meal. The following morning early, I came to school and went straight to Class One. Since I was hardly wearing any clothes (let alone a school uniform), the teacher took me to the staffroom where the other teachers were amazed to see me wearing only torn short trousers, with a bare stomach and chest.
One of the teachers, Mr. Patrick Agwatta, volunteered to buy me school uniform. I was enrolled as a Class One pupil although I was bigger than the other pupils, and I could join the others for lunch. The food I received was from a WFP school feeding programme, and I used to take home corn soya blend and cereals to share with my younger brother and sisters. Since this was the only food we could get, I used to attend school every day without being absent, because if I was absent we slept without food.
The same month my parents decided to move away in search of pasture but I remained and stayed with my teacher, Mr. Patrick.
WFP school meals brought me this far, and I finished my schooling because of them. Now I’m an employee of WFP and proud of working for the organization.