“Mommy, my head hurts, please give me some bread,” exclaims Pablo, a four-year-old boy, as he gets ready for school. Pablo’s mother’s heart breaks as she tries to comfort her son, knowing that, yet again, she will have to send her son to school hungry. “My son has suffered a lot. Food is something that is considered a luxury. Everything is impossible to buy, and with the jobs one does, it is not enough. Once, my child fainted at school while playing, and I know it is because of lack of food.”
In Venezuela, food insecurity is rampant; approximately 6.5 million people suffer from undernourishment. “It is desperate. Not having a bite to eat at home is the worst tragedy one can live [with],” explains Marta Ramirez, a mother struggling to feed her children Eva and Carla. Marta tells us that her children have gone 24 hours without food, which not only prevents them from growing physically but cognitively as well. When starving children go to school, they can’t focus or concentrate because a constant feeling of hunger distracts them.
Between 2021 and 2022, 190,000 students in Venezuela dropped out of school. One of the predominant causes is food insecurity. Many parents in Marta’s community keep their children at home instead of sending them to school so they can sleep in and feel less hungry. Maria, a local preschool teacher, said, “I have 20 children in my class, and most of the time, only eight or ten attend. When I ask their parents, they answer me that there was nothing at home to feed them, and for that reason, they did not bring them to school.”
Recognizing the developmental dangers of hunger, you brought a mobile canteen to this community. You’re delivering hot, nutritious meals to 45 children five days a week. Now, children like Eva and Carla can return to school with full tummies and alert minds. Your firm commitment to this community means this canteen will continue providing lifesaving meals to vulnerable children into 2024 and keep them from abandoning their education.
Eva and Carla are filled with excitement and joy as they rush to get ready for school. Knowing that they will have a delicious and nourishing meal before school is a relief not just for them but for their mother, too. “Full tummy, happy heart” is the phrase in Marta’s head as her daughters make their way to school. Your love and support give her hope for their futures.