_[Soundtrack to this post: ”School Days” by Chuck Berry]
Imagine you had to walk an hour to work on an empty stomach. Then, come lunch time, you didn’t have any money, so you had to walk back home where the only lunch you could afford was salted rice. How much would you dread returning to work in the afternoon? How well would you be able to concentrate once you got there?
For kids in rural parts of developing countries like the Philippines, distance from school and lack of nutritious food are unbelievably strong deterrents to their staying in school. (Not to mention a shortage of books and pencils, jam-packed classrooms, and roofs that drip on their heads).
Amazingly, $15 per year will provide a nutritious lunch to one student and increase their chance of staying in school by something like 50%! (I have to check in to the actual figure, but it was astounding).
The Feeding Program is just one initiative by the New York-based “Advancement for Rural Kids” a.k.a. ARK. The program involves parents and local farmers to cultivate a garden right next to the school and prepare hot, nutritious lunches. The kids’ health improves, they pay better attention, and their test scores go up.
I couldn’t help myself. I whispered to the girl next to me, “We’re so lucky.” I doubted that any of the women assembled at Columbia University that day had ever risked dropping out of school.
In my Communicating for Social Change class, we recently talked about the powerful effects of education, particularly for teen girls. Do you remember the “Girl Effect” video that circulated wildly a couple of years ago? Briefly, if a girl stays in school, there’s a much better chance that she will not marry as a young teen, that she will stay healthy, and be able to support her family financially. A follow-up video, hosted on a site that is packed with resources to help viewers spread the message, focuses on the benefits of putting off marriage and children for young girls.
So please take a look! And if your pocketbook is weighing you down in a very immediate way, please go straight here to pick a girl-focused project to support directly. And of course, please consider packing a hot, nutritious lunch for one rural kid by giving to ARK here. Bon appétit!
If these kids can prolong their school days, they’ll do much better in life.
About this blog
I'll use this space to write about movies, bikes, communications trends, pop culture, and my adventures as a new New Yorker.