about the author
Reporting and Communications Officer
Catherine Robar is based in Maseru and works in the Lesotho Country Office.
South African celebrity chef, TV personality and WFP Hunger Advocate Yudhika Sujanani travelled to Lesotho’s highland districts in June to see how WFP is helping people overcome the challenges of hunger and food insecurity during the southern African winter.
The moon is still visible as children begin their long walk to Montsi Combined School in the highland region near Mohale Dam. They arrive tired and hungry, having walked upwards of 10 km. From the smiles and laughter, it is hard to believe that more than half of these children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS; nearly a dozen live in homes headed by children and the food cupboards are often bare.
This school is a beacon of hope for the residents of Ha Sankong village and the surrounding area. Every day, community workers prepare hot meals on site with ingredients provided by the UN World Food Programme. The breakfast and lunch served here encourage attendance and help students focus on learning throughout the day. This school teaches pupils of primary and secondary school age. Each morning, they are served sweet porridge, then later later in the day a lunch of pap (salty maize porridge) with a variety of ingredients which can include beans and fish from WFP, and spinach, beetroot or cabbage grown in the school garden
A World Away
As Yudhika Sujanani approached the village, she could see that, although only a few hours away from her home in Johannesburg, she was a world away from the world of her Home Channel cooking series, Sugar ‘n Spice. Yudhika had recently become a WFP Hunger Advocate and had travelled to Lesotho for the first time to see first-hand how WFP is working with vulnerable communities to overcome hunger and malnutrition. While Yudhika helped to cook the school lunch she could see the dedication of the local staff who prepares food daily for more than 200 students.
“As a child there were days when I had no lunch,” recalled Yudhika. “Friends at school would share with me so I wasn’t hungry. But how do children cope when everyone else is hungry too?”
Share her experiences
As many as 39% of children in Lesotho are stunted due to malnutrition. Stunting causes irreversible cognitive and physical damage, affecting the child for the rest of their life. It is for this reason that WFP has created a variety of programmes to help families overcome child malnutrition, including the School Meals programme which will provide meals to 125,000 children in 623 schools in 2013.
After two days travelling through the remote areas of Lesotho, Yudhika returned to Johannesburg to share her experiences with others through her cookery show and books.