A key to seeing permanent lasting change in a country is through the education of the children. The children of South Africa are suffering from parentless homes, astronomically high HIV rates, high infant mortality rates and malnutrition. 45% of the deaths in children before the age of five in this region are contributed to malnutrition of either the child or mother, or both. The education system is also struggling. Even though South Africa usually ranks ahead of most African countries, according to a recent report, it ranks last in the area of math and science education and 3rd from the last in overall education.
“The greatest challenge was to get the kids to the school—on time and also to have them perform because most were too hungry to concentrate on the schoolwork being asked of them”.
Our challenge was to identify ways to give specific help to the children. The organizing charter was simple: dedication to end the cycle of poverty by partnering with local schools to provide breakfast every day before school, basic medical care and lifestyle discipleship for both children and their teachers. Partnering with schools was a logical step in meeting the needs of these communities and deliver help to the children.
Children are a blessing from the Lord. In South Africa many children are left without parents and live in poverty because of no fault of their own. South Africa has been hit hard with the consequences of poverty and HIV. Many parents have died at an early age because of the effects of poverty and HIV. This leaves many households to be lead by children. These children are malnourished. Infant mortality is very high in these communities. Many of these children do not go to school because they are focused on trying to survive and find their next meal. Our heart is to impact marginalised communities with support. One way we do this is to partner with schools to provide a breakfast for students.
After speaking to principals and teachers about the needs of their students, we discovered children came to school hungry, without eating anything, sometimes even hungry from the day before. They told us of children who couldn't concentrate because they were so hungry. Or who wouldn't even come to school because they were trying to find something to eat. First Love Ministries began providing breakfast for school children at primary schools. The effect of a free breakfast enables students to start school with a healthy breakfast, able to concentrate on learning, and helps to keep the children healthy. Schools where we have implemented the breakfast program have seen a big increase in attendance. Many of these children come from homes where food is not available everyday; knowing they will get breakfast at school increases their ability to be at school.