Nairobi, Kenya – Joy Primary School in Mathare Valley looks a lot like any school around the world at lunchtime. At exactly a quarter to one everyday, students line up tightly clutching their plates and spoons, eagerness clearly displayed across their faces. Class by class they are served and carefully make their way to join their friends to eat their hot nutritious meals as they chat away before the bell rings to get them back to class.
Fifteen-year-old Maxwell Onyango, is one of the fortunate students. Maxwell is in his last year of primary education. Second born to a family of four children, he is well aware of the financial strain his parents undergo in meeting their basic needs. His father is a construction worker who depends on seasonal jobs that are sometimes hard to come by, while his mother sells clothes in the sprawling slum of Eastleigh.
Maxwell often goes without having breakfast at home. He depends on the porridge served in the morning hours as sustenance to keep him attentive for the early classes.
“If the school didn’t offer lunch or porridge, I believe I would go hungry. Walking home over lunchtime to eat would be next to impossible; and I rarely get pocket money to buy snacks. Having these meals motivates me to come to class and saves my parents a lot of money,” he explains.
Maxwell is not alone. Over 400 students at Joy Primary School have greatly benefited from the feeding program. He strongly believes that if the school did not offer meals, many students would have dropped out of school and turned to the street for work or even worse – crime. This program in so many ways plays a great role in securing the future of the children in Mathare slum who attend this vibrant school.
“I know I would find it hard to concentrate in class if no meals were served. I am now studying hard to ensure that once I sit for my final exams, I will pass with flying colors and enroll in a good high school. The meals here are helping me greatly to concentrate and I appreciate those who are giving money to this program,” Maxwell fervently shares.
For the past several years, Maxwell has developed a keen interest in electrical engineering. Having lived in the slums with unreliable and sometimes dangerous electric power connections, Maxwell believes through education he can realize his aspiration and assist many with the skills and knowledge he will acquire in university. “I really want to help those who do not have electricity. I hope I can make this dream a reality,” he says.
The feeding program at Joy Primary School is transforming many lives. Thanks to you and other generous Allies, we are able to play a key role in the lives of hundreds of students who depend on these meals to stay in school.