The School Lunch Feeding Programme is now in its 9th year.
Giving the day girls a meal at lunchtime continues to be our main commitment to the school. There are over 500 girls who benefit every day from this small meal to keep them going through the long school day. Sadly school lunch provided for day children is still almost unheard of in Uganda. The government tries to encourage every school to mobilise to provide this essential meal…but with no money from the government to help fund a meal and schools with a high number of day children already struggling to find the money for scholastic materials, finding the funds to provide a lunch for every child is unachievable. Asking for volunteers and donations of maize from parents to support the school in this venture, is perhaps achievable in urban areas, but deep in the villages where educating a child….let along a girl child…is still considered with some suspicion this has proved far too unrealistic to be a serious option. There are energy efficient stoves at the school, which help to ensure that not too much firewood is used to prepare the huge pans of maize porridge.
As well as funding school lunches at St. Michael’s we also fund lunch at the fledgling senior school that is slowly being built next door …Bishop Willigers SS.
Also next door on the other side is St. Mulumba’s school with over 1000 pupils (mixed) They do not have the funds to provide lunches for their pupils, and we will continue to try and find a corporate donor or another small charity to help them.
Availability of maize continues to be a real worry for Sr Josephine, the Headmistress, who has to buy 1000s of kilos of maize every week, for the boarders as well as the day girls. The school has small pockets of land that they rent around the village but most of the maize has to be brought from local markets, at the prevailing prices, that fluctuate according to the harvest and weather…..and then taken to a commercial mill for grinding.
One option we are thinking about is supporting the community in having their own maize mill in the village. This will immediately benefit all the villagers as every household grows maize, it is their staple food. Having a mill that they can walk to will be a great benefit. But sustainability and a proper business plan is essential as well as the expertise on the ground to run and maintain the mill. But this venture does have a lot of promise and we are looking at this seriously as a co-operative community venture.
We are continuing to work really hard to promote the growing of Moringa (the Miracle Tree) throughout the village. The girls have the powder from the leaves sprinkled on their porridge. There are enormous nutritional benefits (lots on the internet about Moringa) All the fruit and vegetables go to improve the girls’ diet. There are new projects for us to work on within the gardens – improving the soil – both by animal manure and green manure – processing and storage of crops – proper crop rotation and trying to find a cost effective solution to feeding the animals during the dry seasons.