Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lunch for Everyone!

We are trying to keep it a secret here in Goderich, because we know that once people hear we are serving free lunches to all of our students, parents will start pulling their children out of other schools to register them with us. It is probably already too late to try to keep the secret since nearly two hundred children went home yesterday to tell their parents that they would be receiving lunch every day but Friday, the half-day for Muslim prayers, until the end of the year.

It took a good bit of organizing to get this school feeding program started, but the need was so clear to everyone connected with the school that everyone I approached to work on it with me eagerly agreed. The teachers have been buying small snacks for their students nearly every day, and the women who sell the snacks in the school yard have been watching hungry children beg their classmates for small tastes. So the teachers organized the purchase of a large metal cooking pot and all of the serving utensils we would need; the women selling snacks agreed to do the shopping and cooking and washing up; and yesterday the children had their first regular school lunch: a one-pot "culture" of rice and a few cups of black-eyed-peas and smoked herring. I know it does not sound delectable, and it was not according to the teachers (I have a cold and hence no appetite at the moment), but the children scraped their bowls clean and asked for seconds until the pot was empty and there was none left for even the cooks.

I will post pictures later this week, once I have a chance to actually take pictures. I was busy yesterday delivering food and sorting out how much money we would need for today. Today I spent at the local clinic with a boy suffering badly from malaria, so I missed lunch today and will likely miss it tomorrow while I am at a meeting of national child protection workers.

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