South Sudan’s hunger crisis drives students from classes

South Sudan's hunger crisis drives students from classes

In South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands are on the brink of starvation and famine has been declared in two counties, children are struggling to learn because of lack of food.

“I can’t do my homework because I’m hungry,” Thor Athiam says. “I can’t concentrate.”

He shuffles the dirt under his small bare feet. The skinny 9-year-old’s ripped shirt falls loosely off his frame. Crouched under a tree outside his classroom, he waits patiently for lunch.

This will be the first time he’s eaten since yesterday.

“This is the worst year for school dropouts,” says Deng Mawien, the deputy headmaster in the school in this small town. “The hunger is having a negative impact.”

Out of 1,000 children enrolled, Mawien says roughly 700 show up daily. Some have left with their families to neighbouring Sudan, while others are sent by their parents to work in the market to make money for food.

South Sudan’s three-year civil war and economic crisis has disrupted farming so much that millions of people are going hungry, aid officials say.

As part of an initiative to keep kids in school, World Vision says it is providing 30,000 students with one hot meal a day in 171 schools in Greater Bahr El Ghazal province.

“When the kids come to school in the morning and see the fire cooking, their eyes light up,” says Matthew Majok, a volunteer teacher. He says 14 of the 16 children who come to his class every morning haven’t had anything to eat.

“I see their faces,” he says. “They’re hungry and they don’t want to listen.”

For most students, this is the only meal they’ll eat all day.

Devouring his lunch of porridge in a small metal bowl, 9-year-old Athiam says he’s determined to continue his studies because he wants to become a teacher.

“If you teach other generations they can teach the next ones,” he says. “And then there will be no hunger.”

Sam Mednick, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Flood risks downgraded in the RDN

Effective immediately, the Regional District of Nanaimo is deactivating it’s Level 1… Continue reading

Qualicum Beach age restriction bylaw sent back to staff for changes

Legal non-conforming status could effect property values, councillor says

RDN approves new service to fund film industry

Qualicum Beach mayor disagrees with electoral areas share

VIDEO: French Creek, Coombs hit with flooding

RDN offering sandbags to residents in low-lying areas

Highway 19A reopened north of Qualicum Beach

Repair work completed 48 hours after Sunday washout near Cook Creek Road

Parksville gift shop turned into gingerbread house

Resort buys hundreds of pounds of gingerbread, icing and candy

Vehicle found, woman still missing, last seen in Parksville

Oceanside RCMP requesting public assistance in locating Carmel Georgina Gilmour

Traffic counter stolen in Qualicum Beach

Item worth thousands of dollars missing from residential neighbourhood

Charge laid against B.C. man in cat torture

Joshua Michael Lemire, 20, has been charged with one count of causing unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal.

Oxford Dictionary responds by video to Victoria boy’s bid for levidrome

William Shatner tweet garners attention of Oxford

Site C allows more wind, solar energy, experts say

Lawyer, economist argue for completion of B.C. Hydro dam

Record-high temperatures reached in 18 spots in B.C.

White Rock, Victoria and the Fraser Valley made new records for the unusually warm November day

Supreme Court to hear case on whether ISPs can charge for IDing online pirates

Film producers seeking to crack down on people who share copyrighted material illegally

Canadian initiative fuelled by Terry Fox’s dream may be only hope for young cancer patients

Young cancer patients in rural or remote areas did not always get the testing available

Most Read