UGANDA: More than 1,700 youth access better nutrition at Salesian programs thanks to Rise Against Hunger rice-meals
(MissionNewswire) More than 1,700 poor youth in Uganda in the first quarter of 2019 had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization that provides food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. The rice-meal shipment was shared with Don Bosco Children and Life Mission (Don Bosco CALM) and Don Bosco Primary School in the town of Namugongo and St. Bakita Primary School in Bombo. The donation was also shared with students at the Salesian Bombo Vocational Training Center and the Kamuli Vocational Training Center.
The rice-meals are being provided to students at schools and children at the orphanage to ensure they have the energy and focus to gain an education and participate in social programs. Don Bosco Children and Life Mission is a home that welcomes and gives hope to 165 children including those who are orphans, HIV positive, living on the streets or otherwise vulnerable. In addition, Don Bosco CALM has opened its doors to children refugees mainly from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Our organization faces a lot of challenges to find enough food to feed our children who are mostly adolescent, therefore in need of big quantity of food,” says Father Elie Nyandwi, director of Don Bosco CALM and the Don Bosco Primary School. “It is our responsibility to look for the best ways to find food for our beneficiaries. Most of time, we face financial crisis, and we don’t get enough funds to pay school fees, scholastic materials, medical treatment, food, and salaries for our workers. Food remains the priority since it is the basic need for all human beings. Thus, the Rise Against Hunger meals are highly needed and loved in our organization. Without it, general panic is immediately noticed.”
One recipient, 15-year-old Enock Katumba, is a student at Don Bosco Primary school who began living at Don Bosco CALM four years ago. Katumba is the first born in a family of four children. His mother died of HIV/AIDS and his father left the family after a dispute with this employer, leaving the children alone.
Katumba was rescued by a woman who could not care for him so she brought him to a hospital, which referred him to Don Bosco CALM. Arriving at the Don Bosco home, he was placed in a primary one class because he lacked early access to education so he needed to catch up to his peers. Ever since, has been among the five best students in his class. Katumba does not hide his disappointment about the life he left behind in his village. He says, “I suffered a lot, my body was very weak, I am happy of being here where I eat well. I am only worried about my young sister and two brothers who are still suffering a lot in the village.” Katumba dreams of becoming a pilot in order to visit many countries. He also hopes that one day he will become a leader in his village and save many children who have nobody to help them.
Salesian missionaries report that students who have access to nutritious food fare much better in school. They have an ability to focus more, are more engaged in their studies and have better outcomes in their coursework.
Today, 34 million people live in Uganda with half being under 15 years of age. Many children and older youth have to deal with diseases such as malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS. The number of Ugandans living below the poverty line declined from 31.1 percent in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013, where it stands today.
Close to 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty, according to UNICEF. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 163 out of 188 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.
Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.