A Kenyan School Feeds Students' Minds and Stomachs

    29 October, 2014

    This is the VOA Learning English Education Report.

    Mildred Auma lives in Kibera, a large and poor neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya. Every morning she wakes of her four-year-old son Augustine and gets him ready for school. The boy has a glass of milk and a piece of bread before he leaves home.

    Augustine is among only a few local students who get anything to eat before going to class. His school, the Seed School Kibera, began offering early childhood education to poor children seven years ago. Today 60 students are taking part in the program. They are from three to 14 years of age.

    Benjamin Odhiambo has taught at the school for the past two years. He says it helps both the minds and bodies of its students.

    "The children look forward to the meals because most of these children come from less privileged families. This is the only meal they can afford within a day, so we are not just feeding them physically but we are also nourishing them intellectually," said Odhiambo.

    Few people in Kibera have jobs, and most children come to school hungry. That means they may have problems keeping attention focused on school work, and they may not learn well. So the school started a food program. At 10 in the morning children have porridge to eat, and at 1 o'clock they eat a hot meal before leaving for home three hours later.

    In Kibera, Mildred Auma is among the few people who owns a business that can provide for her family's basic needs. She earns about $10 a day from selling groundnuts and buns, a kind of bread.

    But she is still grateful for the meals her son gets in school. She says the school is close to her business, she praises the school for giving him meals. But Augustine may not be able to stay there when he graduates from class three, his present grade level. She says if that happens, she will ask for help in finding a place for him in a similar school.

    Patrick Aouki is the school's director. He says the food program gets money from parents who made beaded jewelry. Sales of jewels and necklaces provide about $120 a month.

    "We have an economic challenge in the slums. So one major thing we actually do is to offer a feeding program for the children. This supports them actually to grow intellectually and maybe physically to be able to concentrate on their learning," said Aouki.

    This education may prove a way out of poverty into a more promising future.

    And that's the VOA Learning English Education Report for today. I'm Jeri Watson.