Lunch Program for 260 School Children
Project location: ETHIOPIA, Addis Ababa
Project start date: December 2009 - Project end date: December 2010
Project number: 2009-55
Beneficiary: Give a Future
Give a Future, Ethiopia
- Full time running of Lunch Program
- "Give a Future" will have 360 children at both the organization's schools from September onwards
- Growing involvement of the organization's Parent Committee in its Community activities
- Grade 5 Scholarship students prove successful at new school
- Initiation and running of 6 Community Health Discussions with parents
- Successful De-worming program at schools for all students as part of Health Outreach Program
- Upgrading the organization's Grade School compound to a larger location to include a further 100 students for September 2010
- Successful initiation and running of the Women's Business Initiative for 100 women.
- Program including first round of Microfinance lending to 50 women
- Training programs for the organization's teachers in First Aid and Teambuilding
- Expanding the Community Health Discussions to include other community members
- Increased capacity at the organization's schools by additional 100 students in September 2010, extension to grade 8 in 2011
- Second phase of De-worming program in October 2010
- Continue to promote Economic Growth among women as part of the organization's Sustainable Future & Community Participation framework
By all accounts it was another very successful year at Give a Future's schools and as it continues to build the capacity of its staff and the surrounding community "Give a Future" hopes to have a strong start to the 2010-2011 academic year. One of the major achievement highlights was the De-worming program for the organization's 250 students, which is part of the organization's goal to achieve better academic performance by helping to improve the health of the organization's students.
The Lunch Program ran successfully throughout the entire year and "Give a Future" now has a full range of experience with managing this program and its costs. The organization's Parent Committee continued to be a huge asset in terms of enhancing its ability to communicate with the parents and community at large and to design effective programs and outreach.
The Community Health Discussion series began this year and has so far maintained a high attendance rate and received very positive feedback from the participants. Finally, students and parents alike enjoyed the organization's yearly graduation ceremony and "Give a Future" even had members of the municipal "Kebele" government in attendance that later commented that the organization's program was "much appreciated in the community".
Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year "Give a Future" continued to produce a high quality, nutritious, hot lunch every school day for the organization's 260 students. The program employs six women from the community, who also have children at the organization's school, and therefore also contributes to community development through economic growth. The main objective of the program is to enhance the quality of the organization's education by ensuring that each child has enough energy to fuel the body and activate the mind.
Despite the increase in the number of students for the 2009-2010 school year the lunch program has been able to maintain a steady cost of 5.4ETB/child/day, which brings the monthly costs of the program to 27,000ETB/month on average. "Give a Future" continues to produce the meals at the on-site kitchens located at both school compounds. The main cost of the program is the food products and although the prices have stayed relatively consistent for the past year there is always the possibility that food costs will increase. Other than food products the costs include the salaries for the women, fuel, water and the transport costs involved with purchasing large quantities of food in the markets.
Since the beginning, the Lunch Program has proved to be a big success with the students, teachers and parents for a multitude of reasons. For the students, it means one guaranteed hot meal per day, which in turn affects their ability to learn, focus and achieve academic success. For the teachers the Lunch Program has translated into more active students who are able to participate and contribute to the classroom environment. For the parents, the program has significantly decreased the burden of providing three meals per day for their children. Many of the organization's students come from families with on average between 4-6 children and it can be very difficult for the parents (often there is only one) to provide three full meals per day for the whole family.
The provision of lunch also had a positive impact on the relationship between the parents and the school. Initially many parents were reluctant to send their children to school as generally school-age children are also out on the streets earning money for the family. By enrolling their child in school they are losing valuable income that supports the family. Thus sometimes it is difficult to build a positive relationship with the parents of the organization's students as they blame the organization for the lack of income. However, over the years "Give a Future" has worked hard to strengthen the relationship with the organization's parents by emphasizing the importance of education and demonstrating how "Give a Future" can provide other means of support. The Lunch Program renewed the commitment "Give a Future" have to providing a safe, healthy academic environment to the organization's students and many of the parents have also strengthened their commitment to their children's education in return.
"Give a Future" will keep the cost of the lunch program almost the same even though there will be over 360 children in both schools from September onwards as it has enough experience now and have become clever in buying food in bulk over the past year.
The Parent Committee continues to be the organization's most important link with the community at large and the organization's most efficient way of transmitting information to the other parents. The committee consists of 5 mothers and 5 fathers who were selected based on their commitment to education and their potential to act as leaders and role models for the community. The meetings are held every two months and a wide range of topics are discussed from education to community issues that impact children. The objective of the meetings is to receive feedback about current programs while also generating ideas about future possibilities and programs.
The importance of the committee was highlighted this past year in the lead up to the De-worming program. "Give a Future" met with the Parent Committee in order to provide them with all the important information and the objectives of the program. They, in turn, asked many questions and brought up concerns that "Give a Future" had not previously thought of with respect to the knowledge base of the parents. It was an extremely productive meeting where "Give a Future" worked together to create an appropriate information leaflet and a successful way forward for the campaign. Without the assistance and contribution of the Parent Committee "Give a Future" may not have been as successful in getting 100% parental permission for the students to take the medication.
Community Health Discussions:
The objective of the Health Discussions is to engage with members of the community in order to assess current health practices and knowledge and, in turn, strengthen their understanding of health issues that affect their community. The Discussions take place at the organization's KG school location once per month and the organization's staff Nurse Emebet Teshome facilitates them. The meetings generally draw an audience of between 50-70 participants both male and female from the surrounding community and they are strongly encouraged to actively participate in the discussions and share their experiences, knowledge and challenges with each other.
Since the inception of the program there have been six Health Discussion with topics ranging from Basic Hygiene and Sanitation to Intestinal Infections and Communicable Diseases. The content of the Discussions is organized by the nurse but often times the members of the community share their concerns and ask for advice on a number of different topics. From these Discussions "Give a Future" has learned that the community faces a myriad of daily challenges from a lack of latrines and potable water to a growing number of "bars" in the area, which threatens the safety of the women and children. Many of the organization's participants care for sick and elderly family members at home with inadequate knowledge and resources to do so properly. There is also an identified need for an emphasis on Family Planning and natural birth control methods as well as a Discussion on HIV/AIDS. These topics are planned for the upcoming school year.
So far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the parents and community members who have participated in the Health Discussions. They report feeling more confident with being able to cope with health challenges as well as care for their family and children. Although "Give a Future" is not able to provide them with physical resources, simply having a forum to discuss and share experiences and ideas is a good starting point for encouraging community action and unity. As well as being educators "Give a Future" feels its role in the community is equally as important so that the organization's students benefit from a safer, cleaner environment.
The De-worming campaign has two major objectives: increased awareness for good hygiene practices and to distribute de-worming medication to the students every six months to decrease the prevalence of intestinal worms.
As part of the organization's holistic approach to education "Give a Future" felt that the number of absences due to stomach complaints and digestive issues was beginning to adversely affect the academic performance of the students. In Addis Ababa the prevalence of intestinal worms is between 90-95% in many areas, especially those lacking in basic sanitation, access to latrines and potable water. With this in mind "Give a Future" decided to organize a De-worming program that would include a weeklong hand washing and hygiene campaign at the schools to encourage the children to clean their hands after toileting and before eating. "Give a Future" also hosted an information session for all the teachers with the organization's staff nurse to explain the procedure, the medication, what to expect afterwards and how it would be administered so that they would be able to answer questions on the front line to the parents.
On February 18th 2010 "Give a Future" distributed the medication at both its schools with the assistance of its staff nurse and the teachers. Each student's permission slip was verified before the administering of the medication and the tablet was given using Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), either crushed into warm milk for the younger students or placed in the mouth and swallowed by the older students. There were no major incidents and the students all took the medication without any hesitation. It was a very smooth campaign and once again "Give a Future" received very positive feedback from the parents, already declaring within weeks of receiving the medication that there were less "stomach" related issues and diarrheal problems at home.
"Give a Future" sent information home with the students, which included both a diagram of how to prevent intestinal worms and the symptoms and written information about the program. Each child was instructed to have their parent/guardian sign a permission form and return it to the teachers prior to the medication distribution day. The weekend before the De-worming Campaign "Give a Future" held its 3rd Community Health Discussion, which focused on communicable diseases and also provided a forum for parents to ask about the de-worming program. It was very well attended and many parents brought the Permission Form to the meeting and once "Give a Future" had answered all the questions many parents submitted the form signed. It was really important for the parents to have a clear understanding of the program in order for it to be successful and from the meeting the word spread about the program and the following Monday most students had handed in signed permission forms.
The second phase of the program will occur in the beginning of October where the returning students will receive the 2nd dose and the new students will receive the first dose. The medication "x-worm", which consists of the active ingredient Mebendazole, has been donated by the social marketing organization PSI International. "Give a Future" hopes to continue receiving the medications from them in the future.
After a busy school year "Give a Future" has no plans of slowing down during the summer! The KG school will run the usual Summer School Program, which provides its students with a safe, clean environment to spend the rainy summer months. The program is structured around a combination of educational classes, indoor games and outside physical activities to keep the children active and learning throughout the summer. The parents were asked to make a "family" contribution of around 10birr per family for the summer program and the money is used towards the purchasing of materials. Of course "Give a Future" never turns any students away and therefore those who can't afford any contribution are still admitted to the program. The goal of the contribution is once again to strengthen the commitment of the families and highlight the importance of education.
With the new, larger compound secured the Grade School teachers will spend the summer setting up and organizing the school in order to begin classes in September. It is a large task and the new compound will provide additional space for students as well as offering a computer lab to the older students. It is very exciting to see the growth of the organization's school and "Give a Future" look forward to being able to offer more spaces to children in need.