Meet Nansubuga Josephine and Dan Amon, the Headmistress and Head Teacher at Nalusse Success Primary School in Mukono, Uganda. They are both recipients of the Hot Lunch Program that was initiated back in 2008. Both of these extraordinary figures have been with Nalusse since before the program was initiated, so they have seen the direct impact it has had on their school and the community. We were lucky enough to be able to catch up with them and hear about their perspective of the impact of the Hot Lunch Program. Here’s what they had to say:
What does the Hot Lunch Program mean to you, the students, and the other teachers at Nalusse Success Primary School?
Nansubuga: It makes my children feel confident. It keeps my kids in school, reduces rates of absenteeism, and they no longer come in late. If there was no lunch at school, they would have to go home for lunch. But, sometimes there was nothing at home. So they would come back to school late, and possibly with an empty stomach. They were hungry and didn’t have the energy to learn. School was be a punishment.
Now with the Hot Lunch Program, the students feel happy and secure that someone out there cares about them. They look forward to this lunch. It keeps them going until the end of the day.
The teachers appreciate getting a free lunch at school, too because they don’t have to spend extra money for their lunch.
Dan: It is helping us to educate the children and maintain their presence in school. If there was no lunch, there would be no kids in school.
How has the implementation of the Hot Lunch Program impacted your life and the life of your students?
Nansubuga: The free lunch has raised the enrollment at school. The students fall sick far less often, they are bigger and healthier, and they have more energy. They used to be thin and pale, and in the afternoons they were so tired. Now their cheeks are round and rosy! It is a very obvious change.
They used to be given 200 shillings (20 cents) from their parents and buy junk with it. Now they get proper food.
Do you see any differences in the classroom with students when they have been served a hot lunch?
Nansubuga: They’re more attentive and focused. They play and jump; they’re healthy and strong. Since 2008, when the program started, school scores have gone up and remained consistently high. We are the highest ranking small school in Mukono.
Dan: Those who don’t eat are hard to teach. They get annoyed and their mind is constantly on food. With those that eat, you see them happy and smiling. They feel comfortable and can concentrate better in class.
Why is it important for the community that the hot lunches are served?
Nansubuga: The parents are very lucky for having this lunch in place. Without it, their children would be starving. I’m not even sure if they would send their kids to this school. They are hesitant at the beginning of each term and they didn’t report to the school until we start serving the lunch.
What would happen if the hot lunches would no longer be served? How would it impact the school and the community?
Nansubuga: The school would suffer. We would lose so many children. We may even have to close if that were the case. Our school fees are very low, but our parents no longer have the mentality to pay extra for lunch.
Dan: Parents would move their kids to extended family members in rural areas, and they would have to transfer schools. There are many government schools that are free in the rural areas. But parents would no longer be living with their children and our community would lose these children. If the kids were transferred to rural areas, they would suffer from the lower academic standards.
Would you like to add anything else?
Nansubuga: We want to show our appreciation to all of the donors. Most of our parents are single parents, many of which haven’t gone to school themselves. Because of this, they don’t really understand the importance of education and how it can change lives. We try to raise awareness around the importance of education because we want our children to have a positive attitude towards education. We want to create a new cycle: get a better education, get better jobs, and change our society.
Dan: I’m praying for our supporters and really appreciate their efforts to keep this lunch program going.