A PROJECT that provides primary-school children in Matabeleland with one meal a day has been launched in Zimbabwe after being devised by a mother from the UK.
The project, the Nutrition Bus, was devised by Lenore Dudman, from Stamford, in Lincolnshire, after she visited the country.
Children in Zimbabwe are some of the most malnourished in the world: 90 per cent of them go hungry every day, and one-third of them have stunted growth because of malnutrition. Ms Dudman spent ten months in Zimbabwe last year, living with her parents-in-law on their cattle farm in Matabeleland. The area has been struck by a drought that is destroying crops and starving livestock across swaths of Africa.
“Children have so many challenges in Zimbabwe,” Ms Dudman said. “Some primary-school children are walking 18km just to get to school, and, as food is less and less available, so many of them are struggling to walk, and, even if they do get there, to concentrate at school. A whole generation of children are not being allowed to fulfil their potential because of hunger.”
The Nutrition Bus was launched in January. The project is being run in partnership with an existing charity, Hope for a Child in Christ, which runs a programme in Zimbabwean primary schools to monitor children’s growth and weight.
“Hope for a Child in Christ has all the permissions to go into schools and evaluate those who are the most needy. I wanted to work with someone who already had that access, so we didn’t have to cope with all the bureaucratic layers there are in Zimbabwe,” Ms Dudman said.
The schools for the launch project were chosen by the Provincial Governor for Education on the basis of need: the project is providing one meal a day for 500 children in two schools. The meal, e’Pap, is a pre-cooked, high-nutrition porridge. A child can be fed on e’Pap for a month, at a cost of just over £4.
“There are, of course, flaws,” Ms Dudman says. “The child has to get to school to get the food; but we wanted to make sure that the children themselves ate the food, and were not just taking it home, where it could be eaten by others or sold on. And, of course, in the holidays, the children won’t get it. But we had to start somewhere.”
Her vision is to move to feeding 1000 children a day, and then to extend the project across Zimbabwe. A member of the congregation of All Saints’, Stamford, she is hoping that churches in the UK will want to support the project.
“It is a question of faith,” she said. “You go somewhere, and see the need, and you do what you can to help.”