The most important meal of the day for school children in Malawi

Judith used to find concentrating in class a struggle. Every morning she went to school without eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Her stomach would grumble through the day and her grades suffered.

Judith’s mother Wezzie worried about her daughter’s health and education, but didn’t realise Judith’s morning routine was the cause. She didn’t know how to help her daughter. “We didn’t know how to prepare nutritious foods, we thought meals that included six different food groups would be expensive.”

Since 2012 World Vision has been running care groups in Judith’s community in rural Malawi. The care groups teach parents the impact malnutrition has on the development of children. The lessons teach how to include all six food groups in every meal, using locally sourced produced that is affordable for families. They aim to make sure every child is healthy and eating a nutritious meal before going to school each day.

“With the formation of care groups and training we can prepare nutritious food using local available resources,” Wezzie says proudly.

Judith is now 10, and a healthy child. She’s doing a lot better in her classes since she started eating healthily every day. “It’s all thanks to World vision for providing us with nutritional education and skills on how to prepare meals with six food groups in our homes,” says Wezzie.

The benefits of the lessons have extended beyond the 50 members of Changoma Care group Wezzie is a member of. 280 households in the community have learned how to prepare nutritious meals. The members have become empowered to teach others in their local community.

Ellen, another mother in the Changoma Care group, also said her children struggled at school as she didn’t know how to prepare nutritious meals. They often went to school hungry and couldn’t concentrate or didn’t attend because they were sick.

“This led to low performance of my children in class as they could not concentrate. They missed many days of school, which led to my children repeating classes. Then, they would drop out of school completely. They were also malnourished. But now, with the skills we have, we can prepare nutritious porridge for our children in the morning before they go to school,” says Ellen.

The results can be seen across the whole community. Children in Judith’s school are now healthy and active in class. Their grades have greatly improved. This year, a greater number of students did well enough in their primary exams to go onto secondary school than in previous years.

‘We want to maintain the free malnutrition classes in the community by forming many child care groups so every child can benefit,” says Elarton Thawani, World Vision Malawi Area Program Manager.

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