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Nourishing meals for growing brains

20 April 2020, Impact of Our Work

Where a good meal means so much more

For nine-year-old Kabukabu and her family in Zambia, a meal isn’t just a meal. When Kabukabu and her family get to eat, it means she has enough energy and concentration to stay in school

In the past, going to school and learning was problematic for Kabukabu. With not enough food to keep her going and learning, she often stayed home. Now that Save the Children provides her with nutritious meals at school, she is ready to play and learn. “I enjoy eating the soya because it tastes very nice and when I am full I can concentrate in class. In the past it was difficult to focus when I was hungry,” she says. 

Benefits for the whole family

Getting enough food also means her mother and grandmother don’t have to search for low-paying casual farm work to put food on the table. And importantly for Kabukabu, it means she gets to spend more time with her family. 

In the past I used to spend only a small amount of time with my mother and grandmother because they were always away looking for work, but since they received the food, they spend more time at home. This makes me happy. When I get home I have enough energy to help my mother with house chores such as drawing water and cleaning the plates.


Mother Chipango says goodbye to her daughter Kabukabu, 9, before she heads to school.


The drought dried up the land and work opportunities

Kabukabu lives with her mum Chipango, siblings and 68-year-old grandmother Alice. In the past, Chipango and Alice were often away from the children, looking or working on other people’s farms. They earned 28kg of maize for working an acre of land. But Zambia’s drought has also dried up their work. When they can find work, the pay isn’t nearly enough to get by. 

Finding casual work and food to eat was always easy until the drought came,” explains Alice. “Right now, there are so many people looking for casual work to feed their families, it makes it difficult for us to find work. Even the pay we receive has reduced from 28kgs to 12kgs for the same amount of work. If you complain, the people giving the work will simply just give it to another person.


No work means no food on the table

“Sometimes there’s no work, and on such days, we have no choice but to stay hungry. There was a time we stayed for four days without food for anyone, including the children.”

When times are hard like now, the family has to rely on foraging wild food, which isn’t tasty or nutritious enough for the children. 
Finding food was difficult, we would dig some bitter wild tubers called mangu’lu for food. Since the tubers are very bitter, we would boil them for a long to make them edible. The local market has been affected by the food shortage as well, so even when we have some money it means walking long distance to find the food we need,


Fed at home and at school

Alice, 68, sorts through grain in the yard of her home. 


Save the Children supporters have provided Kabukabu and her family with food at home, and at school. At home, they’re eating maize (corn) and beans.

“Since we received the mealie meal, beans and cooking oil from Save the Children, we no longer go out to look for casual work. We now spend more time on preparing and managing our own farm. If the rains are good this season, we are hopeful that we will grow enough food to last us for at least a year.

The difference it’s made to their lives cannot be underestimated. 

“On the day I was called to receive the food, I could not believe this was true but when I actually got the food I was very happy. Without this food, my family and especially the children and grandchildren would have continued sleeping hungry. The children are more playful and happier now. Before the food aid came, they would sleep long hours during the day but now they play more. Kabukabu had stopped going to school because of hunger but after their school started feeding them and we also got the food packs, she now goes to school every day.”  

Kabukabu’s dream for the future

Kabukabu and her friends at school.


Now that Kabukabu has enough to eat, she’s dreaming of a future where she’s educated too. “I want all my friends to come to school because we learn a lot of new things such as how to count and I enjoying counting very much. I want to be a teacher when I grow up like my class teacher whom I admire a lot because she is very respected by everyone.”

Photo: Malama Mwila / Save the Children

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