Meet Fulgencia, a 5th grader at the Chinhancane Primary School in Mozambique. I met her one morning this spring as she made her way to school. In the picture above, she holds her school notebooks—lessons in Portuguese, math, and natural sciences—along with a bright green bowl.
Follow Fulgencia on her journey from home to school—where she eats her first meal of the day. Along the way, learn how a devastating drought last year threatened families like hers— and how school meals from the World Food Programme (WFP) helped hundreds of students like Fulgencia return to the classroom after hunger and poverty pulled them out.
Most mornings, Fulgencia does chores while her relatives tend their small plots of farmland. She fetches water, washes plates and kitchen utensils, and tidies the house. She also mills corn into flour with her younger sister. Her aunt and uncle take care of her because her father passed away and her mother went to South Africa to search for work — the drought meant the family had no food to harvest or sell.
Hours before Fulgencia does her chores, a group of volunteer cooks arrive between 6:30 and 7 in the morning to start preparing lunches for the school’s more than 360 students. With food from the World Food Programme, made possible by the support of people like you, they measure the ingredients to prepare a large vat of chickpeas and seven smaller pots of ‘shima’—a thick cornmeal porridge served with fortified beans and vegetables. WFP provides the cornmeal, beans, oil and salt, all fortified to prevent nutritional deficiencies. “I became a cook because it’s like cooking for my own children,” says Gloria Milhone Ngovene, who has worked at the school for eight years. “It’s like taking care of my own children at home. There’s no difference.”