In Mandaug, non attendance at school due to hunger or lack of food is a sad reality.
The better-off students can go home for lunch or bring their “baon”, a Tupperware containing a little rice and a simple side dish. Not all their daily needs are met, but this minimum intake enables them to ensure a physical and intellectual presence that every schoolchild in the world should be able to afford.
Nevertheless, for the most deprived, hunger takes them on the way home, never to return to school because it remains unsatisfied. If they don’t go home, they are unable to concentrate, which greatly affects their schooling.
Unfortunately, this is a general observation throughout the archipelago. Many pupils are undernourished and/or malnourished due to a lack of means from their families, and in some extreme cases due to the absence of a family to look after them.
For others, very (too) early on in their daily lives, they have to take regular absences to work with their parents in the rice fields or stay at home to look after their brothers and sisters. The Philippines, in addition to being a very poor country, is predominantly very Catholic, which limits the use of family planning, with obvious consequences on the incoherent size of some families in relation to their means.
At the beginning of the school year, the DepEd (Department of Education) requires that each student be weighed and measured in order to know his/her body mass index. They are thus put into a physical category so that they can follow those who really need help, the “wasted” or even “severely wasted”. These are the terms used by the government. “Lost”, almost unrecoverable. When they can, these children come to school on an empty stomach, because the law requires children to attend elementary school, but very rarely make it through the day, let alone the year. The government provides the school with a daily allowance to enable the teachers to buy food for the children. Each student receives 16 Philippine pesos per day for a hot meal, or about 24 cents. This is enough to make rice and some vegetables, as meat and fish are very expensive.This aid is a godsend, but unfortunately it only lasts 50 days at best, or 1/4 of the school year (about 200 days in total). This is far too short a period of time to get healthy again at school.
Based on this feedback from the team who worked as volunteers in the Mandaug school in July 2019, Ecoliers des Philippines wishes to adapt to this reality by helping the Mandaug school to build a “feeding centre” and by paying it a monthly food aid so that it can provide lunch to the pupils who are most in need, throughout the school year. Our first Solidarity Canteen will see the light of day in Mandaug!
The operation is based on voluntary work by parents who do not work. At the beginning of the school year, a list of volunteer parents is drawn up and a weekly rotation is set up. The aid paid by the association will therefore be used entirely for food.
Today, regular donations can already cover 90% of these expenses. We are looking for some donors who could complement this aid. With 10€ per month, 30 meals can be provided to the most undernourished children.
Our association’s mission is to ensure that the most important needs of the schools we have decided to support are met. Fighting against hunger which prevents children from going to school is therefore becoming a priority for us this year. And we will do our best to alleviate this problem, because every child has the right to go to school without feeling hungry, and to have the energy to be a child.