Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Tuléar, a highly food-insecure region of southern Madagascar, many vulnerable children fetch water instead of going to school. WFP is working to ensure their families realize the importance of education.
Njara is 14 years old and mentally disabled. She lives with her grandparents and her siblings in the southwestern province of Tuléar. One day, their mother took them to their grandparents and never came back. Njara does not know who her father is. The grandparents are poor and are struggling to feed and educate the children. Unlike her siblings, Njara goes to school and gets a daily school meal made with corn soya blend, oil, maize and pulses provided by WFP. She studies at the Centre Fanantenana which takes care of mentally disabled children from vulnerable families. She learns to read and write but is mostly trained to be able to take care of herself. "Children like Njara are considered a burden to their family," says Njara's teacher. "We help them to be independent." The centre Fanantenana is one of nearly 200 centres for orphans and other vulnerable children where WFP provides daily hot meals through a Support to Basic Education programme. This is designed to support access to schooling for young people who have left the formal education system or are at high risk of dropping out. WFP assistance is made possible thanks to the support from France which, in 2013, amounted to more than US$ 1 million. In total, WFP aims to assist 33,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the south and in the island's urban slums. "Thanks to WFP's assistance, the number of children who come to study is increasing," says Sister Rosalie, coordinator of the Centre Fanantenana. "WFP meals really encourage parents to send them for schooling". Njara would like to be a nun so she can help children in situations similar to hers. WFP's assistance is helping make her dream come true.