School Lunch Program
|In January 2009, Medical Missionaries started a pilot program to
provide a hot lunch meal to students in one small private school in Thomassique. Seeing that the program is greatly
needed, it was expanded in September 2009 to provide a hot lunch every day for approximately 1500 students in 8 elementary
schools in Thomassique. Following the earthquake in January 2010, the program was further extended and now includes
2000 students in 10 schools. The program is offered in conjunction with Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit company in Minnesota. |
In the summer of 2010, two undergraduate students from Duke University, who volunteered
at the clinic to expand a water purification project, learned that most of the schools in the lunch program did not have potable
water for students and half of them had no latrine. The Duke students, Meryl Colton and Christina Booth, took it on
themselves to arrange for each school to have at least two classroom-based water purification systems for drinking water,
and for a pair of latrines to be built at the four schools that had none. They also developed a hygiene education program
that is offered all year long at the participating schools to teach students the importance of washing hands before eating
and after using the latrine and the benefits of drinking purified water.
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Shown in this photo is the first part of the food program being delivered
to one of the schools, Tet Ansam. This school is quite an interesting story in itself. The name means "Hands
Together," the principle that underlies the school itself. Various persons from the community are joining their
hands together to educate indigent children who otherwise would not be able to go to school. Founded by a former St.
Joseph Clinic worker, Belizaire "Down" Webelon, the school is staffed by teachers who forego pay and donate their
services. For many of the 70 students, the school lunch they receive from Medical Missionaries is the only full meal
they have each day.
school is not much to look at, but what they lack in resources is made up by the enthusiasm and dedication of the school staff.
It is easy to imagine how important the hot lunch is for the students who attend this school.
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The hygiene program that accompanies the school lunch
program will be especially important for the students at Tet Ansam. Most come from homes that lack latrines (88% of
the homes in the area do), and few or none will have potable water at home. At Tet Ansam, they have new latrines and
they will have purified water on a regular basis. They will carry these lessons home with them.