Food for Knowledge's Impact on Nutrition and Learning
Mónica is a tall, healthy 14-year-old girl who attends seventh grade at the Mulelemane Primary School in southern Mozambique. She is a member of the school's reading and writing club and gets good grades. But she wasn't always doing as well as she is today.
Because of the challenges she faced during her early childhood, Mónica fell behind in school by two full years. She missed many lessons due to malnutrition, which was amplified by the severe drought that affected her region—causing a lack of production of her family's farm.
"In the past, I was always absent from school. Sometimes because of hunger and sometimes because I lacked motivation. I did not feel happy at school and I was often distracted, so my grades were bad," she said.
In the area where Mónica lives, conditions had indeed been severe.
"The common characteristics of the children were swollen bellies, brown hair, sunken and shallow eyes," said Geraldo Zaval, District Manager of the Food for Knowledge project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by Planet Aid and ADPP Mozambique..
Mónica's situation, like other girls her age at school, began to change in 2013, with the introduction of Food for Knowledge.
"My daughter was ill before this program. She had a big belly, was short, and had brown hair. I did not know what the reason was, because she was not the only one, many children were like that and we thought it was because of the water we consumed," — Joana, Mónica's mother
Robert Nhamirre, who is responsible for nutrition education in Food for Knowledge, says there has been a change in the physical appearance of the pupils from the benefiting schools. Mónica is a shining example of that change.
"Today, I spend most of my time in school," said Mónica. "In the morning I am in class, and twice a week we have the reading and writing club in the afternoon."
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