Story by Jenny Davis. Photos by MAF & Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron.
Huge metal cooking pots fill the freight room at MAF South Sudan. ‘The pots and pans are for the school feeding programme,’ explains Senior Booking’s Officer Kiir, the friendly voice on the phone assisting Kuron Peace Village, make the arrangements for their flights. ‘They need new pots because the school is expanding,’ Kiir explains. ‘They have recently opened a secondary school which will allow the students to continue their education after primary eight.’
MAF flies for Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron, several times a month, bringing in freight and passengers to supply the villages peace programs which include several agricultural and economic empowerment initiatives, a clinic, road and infrastructure project, a vocational training centre for adults as well as nursery, primary and secondary schools.
The award-winning project was started in 2005 by Bishop Paride Taban, is helping the pastoralists community break the cycle of conflict by educating the young, providing alternative sources of employment for the youths and adults, and by resolving conflicts through their peace and reconciliation centre, when they tragically arise.
Three Meals a Day
After a 1 hour, 20 minute flight, the pots and other items are unloaded at the Kuron Airstrip. The Peace Village’s Gabe Hurrish shares how the pots will be used to prepare food for 310 primary students, over 300 registered nursery students, 52 Secondary students and 27 staff.
The school children get three meals a day lovingly prepared by three dedicated dinner ladies who work seven days a week. The menu is a big cup of sorghum porridge for breakfast and a plate of Sorghum, posh or ugali with beans for lunch - and the same again for dinner. Staples are supplemented with leafy greens from the village’s gardens. The students contribute firewood to keep the kitchens going.
The feeding programme is supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) which trucks supplies of staples including sorghum from Kapoeta - 265km away. The journey takes eight hours on a good day Gabe explains. ‘If there are rains or some wash out areas along the road, then supplies are slowed or not delivered. Many times the school has come very close to running out of food,’ he says.
Hungry to Learn in Kuron
Gabe is enthusiastic about the feeding programme which is a huge incentive for many children to come to school. As one young student told him; “It’s the first time I have three meals of food in my life!” Without good nutrition it’s impossible for children to learn and grow.
‘It is the children themselves, who serve as the greatest agents of change,’ Gabe says passionately. ‘After attending nursery, they become motivated and start agitating their parents to let them go to primary and secondary school. These children have tasted knowledge and are hungry for more!’