Save The Children are starting a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of malnutrition on education:
food for thought

The information displayed here is really saddening. Education is perhaps an aspect we might not have considered immediately, when thinking of malnutrition, but so many children are suffering due to this and it is affecting their ability to read and learn. Save The Children are publishing a new report today, entitled Food for Thought showing the massive impact that nutrition is having on so many children’s education worldwide. Together with Britmums and many of their bloggers, I have joined them to try and raise awareness of this issue.

Access to education and the ability to read makes a massive difference in any child’s life, and it is so wrong that children are missing out on this opportunity because they do not have enough food to eat to keep their brains and bodies nourished ready to learn. There is enough food for everyone, if only it was distributed fairly. When I think how much food we buy without thinking, and how much sometimes gets wasted, I feel so ashamed to think of these children and to think of the mother’s worrying about when and where they will next find food for their child.

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Here are some case studies I would like to share from Save The Children. This is the story of Kasturi, aged 8 from India:

save the children food for thought

Case Study
Summary

Kasturi, 8, female Nutrition, Education 56005 – 56009

Kasturi is the youngest daughter of Srinivas and Lakshmi, who worked as agricultural labourers in Andhra Pradesh until Lakshmi became pregnant with twins and Srinivas found it impossible to find work. They moved to town with their eldest daughter, Sangeeta, and Lakshmi gave birth to twins, one of whom died after ten months. While Lakshmi was pregnant and when Kasturi was small, the family struggled to make ends meet and couldn’t afford to buy nutritious food. While Sangeeta is doing well at school, Kasturi is struggling.

 

Chandra Kala, Kasturi’s teacher

“I’ve been Kasturi’s teacher for two years now. Her learning’s very slow and there’s been no major improvement. She has difficulty writing but can identify alphabets and pictures.

Even though she’s in Class 3 now, Kasturi still struggles with words and maths. She can’t even keep up with the class 2 students.

Sangeeta was one of our bright students in the primary school. She was very active and still is. I hear a lot of good things about her from her teachers in High School.

A lack of proper food usually hampers children’s ability to grasp things and slows down the pace of learning. There are a lot of children like Kasturi.”

 

Srinivas, Kasturi’s father

“We went through a very bad phase in life. We had very little to eat and there were times when we were hungry for days. I felt very sad as I couldn’t provide for my pregnant wife.”

 

Lakshmi, Kasturi’s mother

“I use to breastfeed my children but my milk wasn’t enough for both of them [the twins]. We didn’t have enough food then.”

 This is the story of Nyagol, a mother of 6 in South Sudan

save the children food for thought

Case Study
Summary

 

All of Nyaguol’s six children, except the youngest two, are enrolled at the primary school in their village. However, they’re often too hungry and sick to go to attend, or too weak to concentrate on their lessons. Floods, drought and ongoing inter-communal violence have led to severe food shortages in the area. Often the family goes for days without food. Last year, Nyaguol’s youngest daughter, two- year-old Nyakuoth, was given peanut paste as part of Save the Children’s nutrition programme. Although she’s stronger now, Nyaguol is worried that lack of food is hampering her development. Nyaguol is a member of Save the Children’s Mother to Mother Support Group in Ukau village. The group received childcare training, for example, about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first six months, how to introduce complementary foods, and about good health and hygiene practices. Their role is to pass on this information to other women in their community.

 

Nyaguol story in her own words

Our main problem here is insecurity. Last year there were also floods and drought, so people don’t have enough food. Whenever you want to go to find food you’re worried because of the fighting. People are just running here and there and aren’t able to find enough food for their children to survive. This has been a problem for very many years. Each year we hope it will be better but each year there are problems.

All of our crops were swept away in last year’s floods, so we have nothing. All I can do is try to earn a bit of money and then go and buy enough sorghum in the market to feed my children for one day. We mainly eat sorghum. We don’t have a mill to grind it so we grind it by hand and give it to the children.

There’s no way to make any money here unless you have a net and can catch fish in the river to sell at market. But when you put your net in the river you don’t know what you’ll be able to catch. You don’t know what there will be to eat tomorrow. You just hope there’ll be some way to feed your children.

My mind runs mad thinking about what my children are going to eat today and what they’ll eat tomorrow because I have nowhere to go and get food for my children. I can’t go very far to find work because it’s not safe and I’m worried that I might be killed while I’m collecting firewood.

This really is food for thought for all of us, and a reality check for some of the small things we may worry about. Not to know whether or not the children will be able to eat is such a heartbreaking situation.

Please join the Britmums #foodforthought Twitter chat on Tuesday 28th May 2013 from 1-2pm (full details here) marking the launch of Save the Children’s latest report on child nutrition and education. We will be talking about the importance of nutrition for education and learning to read.

Also please click here to sign the Save the Children petition, to show your support for this cause. The petition is to urge the G8 leaders to tackle this issue, in the hope that we could be the generation to stop this hunger crisis.