This Father’s Day, We’re Honoring Dads Around the World Fighting to Feed Their Kids

World Food Program USA
June 19, 2020
Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

It’s Father’s Day in the United States – a day we set aside every year to honor dads across the country. Fathers can be our defenders, our champions, our guides – even more so in the worst of times. But a father’s role changes when his family is displaced, when he’s living through conflict, or when he can’t find food for his children.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) supports fathers all over the world, in more than 80 countries, who are doing everything they can to protect and feed their children.

Meet eight dads from eight countries who are overcoming the kind of challenges many of us can hardly imagine to shelter and feed their families.

Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh

Salem draws pictures with his 7 year old daughter Fatima.

Salem, a 40-year-old father in Yemen, lives in a makeshift camp in Aden with eighteen other families. His country is facing a brutal civil war, and it’s pushing millions of people out of their homes to the brink of famine.

Without work, Salem can’t make money to provide for his kids, who missed a year of school when the family fled fighting in their home in Hodeidah. Conflict is a major barrier to keeping kids in school, but thanks to the monthly cash transfers Salem and his family receive from WFP to pay for food (the blue cards he’s holding in his hand), he can afford to send them back.

Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder

A Rohingya father feeds his son at a distribution center in Bangladesh.

Taking only what they can carry, thousands of people are fleeing violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State – seeking shelter at the Bangladeshi border. They arrive at already overcrowded camps, hungry and desperate, looking for somewhere to take shelter.

The U.N. World Food Programme gives new arrivals, like this father and son pair, a supply of high-energy biscuits: a kind of cookie enriched with nutrients to cover immediate nutrition needs. We also supply rice to community kitchens, where people can get a hot meal of khichuri: a porridge of rice and lentils.

Food distributions provide solace – and a bit of relief – to fathers fleeing violence with their families.

Photo: WFP/Alexandra Murdoch

Hikmet, an Iraqi refugee, is pictured with his sons Sofian, 11 and Qutaiba, 8.

Hikmet was a scrap metal dealer in Mosul before he fled fighting with his family.

“Work dried up. We had to sell two cars, which enabled us to buy food and the basics for the past year.”

When they arrived at a refugee camp in Kurdistan, the U.N. World Food Programme was there to provide Hikmet and his family with hot meals. That support will continue with monthly food staples like rice, lentils, wheat flour, beans and vegetable oil.

“The last few years we have felt very restricted,” he said of Mosul. “My wife, Zainab, hadn’t been to the market for two years. I would always do our food shopping because she wasn’t allowed out of the house. I missed going out as a family.”

Even when fathers are able to keep their displaced families together, they often struggle to find security and community.  Keeping families well-fed is one key part of minimizing that harm.

Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

This pair were displaced from their home in Praia Nova, Mozambique.

Increasingly extreme weather around the world is another reason fathers are having to flee their homes with their families. Last year, a primary school in Beira, Mozambique was forced to take in nearly 3,000 people who were displaced from a nearby fishing village during Cyclone Idai. The entire area was destroyed, including the fisheries.

The U.N. World Food Programme teamed up with a local NGO to provide warm meals to hungry people, like this dad and his baby, who lost their house to the cyclone.

Photo: WFP/Shehzad Noorani

A father rides his daughter to school in Nayapara in Bangladesh.

By providing meals, cash grants, job trainings, small business support and more, the U.N. World Food Programme is working in the hardest hit places – helping fathers like these reestablish their livelihoods. A key part of that normalcy is sending children to school, and this dad makes sure his daughter arrives on time.

Photo: WFP/Griff Tapper

Jean-Pierre Kashila carries his daughter to a refugee camp.

Jean-Pierre Kashila and his family arrived in Kananga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after walking for two weeks. He carried his youngest daughter the whole way. A 41-year-old artisanal diamond miner from Kamonia, he and his family fled when their home was destroyed by a militia.

Studies show that repeated displacement can have devastating impacts on family composition, relationships and roles. Kids often bear the brunt – their mental health is deeply harmed by war and displacement. The U.N. World Food Programme does whatever it takes to help fathers like Jean-Pierre by providing rations of grains, beans, vegetable oil and salt.

Photo: WFP/Georgina Goodwin

Mohamad with two of his children in Kabasa IDP camp.

Mohamed Adan Salat, fleeing fighting in his home country Somalia, found refuge in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp – one of the largest in the world. He met his wife Fatuma there: they stayed for nearly 20 years and had nine children. Fatuma is four months pregant, and they’ve recently moved to the Kabasa Camp back in Somalia hoping to find a better life for their family.

With food support from WFP, the family can still observe Ramadan in the new camp with what little they have. Mohamed is just one of millions of fathers in Somalia who rely on us to keep his growing family fed.

Photo: WFP/Marwa Awad

Zore shares tô de petit mil, a local delicacy made with cooked millet flour, with one of his children.

Armed conflict forced Zore Yusef and his family to flee the northern region of Burkina Faso. One of his brothers was killed in the fighting, but he and his family narrowly escaped – arriving at a refugee camp with nothing but the clothes on their backs. He says that for him, the number one priority is having food to feed his children.


If you can imagine the challenge of trying to keep your family safe in any of these circumstances, please join our crucial work.

This Father’s Day, let’s support dads all around the world. Donate here.