‘I encourage other men to join me to contribute to our children’s education’
Steven Mulanda, father of two, is a volunteer cook at Monkouadjo School, in northern Republic of Congo. The school helps feed students from the indigenous community.
‘I did not have much experience cooking. But recently, I learned the basics in the small restaurants around town. I decided to join the group of volunteer mothers who cook school meals at Moukouadjo school because everyone should contribute to getting indigenous children into school. I started volunteering recently, at the start of the 2018 school year.
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s efforts to provide meals to our school children have inspired me. I want the school meals programme to grow, and want it to reach more places to allow all indigenous children to come out of the forest and receive education — just like our Bantu countrymen.
The message I have for my indigenous brothers and sisters is to be conscious of the assistance we are receiving from donors and our government, and to bring our own contribution — however small. The message I have for men is that cooking is not just for women. I encourage men to join me in contributing to the education of our children.’
WFP’s school feeding programme in Congo targets indigenous children that represent an estimated 8% of the Congolese population, and are among the most affected by food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. Of the 60,000 schoolchildren targeted by WFP, over 7,000 indigenous children receive a hot meal every day in the densely forested and remote northern regions of Sangha and Likouala.
School meals are an incentive for parents to send their children to school and have a positive impact on school attendance. School feeding programmes are a smart investment for children and the community because over the long term, a single dollar invested in school feeding produces 9.60 dollars in benefits.
In October 2017, WFP signed an agreement worth USD30 million with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fund school feeding in Congo for 5 years through the McGovern Dole programme.
Interview by Alexis Kabera and Benoit Lognoné