We set off from Tete City, Mozambique, in two pickup trucks and a jeep, driving west toward the isolated rural district of Marara. In Tete Province, where Marara District is located, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) feeds 82,000 students in 177 primary schools. Watch Hunger Stop, Michael Kors’ philanthropic initiative, helps support the school meals program, and we were there to visit schools and meet the people who make it all work. Included among our group were two special guests, Fernando and Anifa Ferreira, winners of a sweepstakes sponsored by Michael Kors. The prize: to accompany WFP on a field visit.
Mozambique is a place of extreme contrasts, a country with enormous possibility and desperate need. The East African nation has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has made impressive gains in reducing poverty and infant mortality. Yet Mozambique remains one of the poorest nations on earth, with 43% of children under 5 malnourished, life expectancy hovering around 50, and vast swaths of the rural population living without access to clean water, electricity or medical care.
A WFP field visit is a uniquely hopeful event. It’s a chance to see at-risk children learning, playing and getting enough to eat—that is, growing with a chance for a better future. Each school we visited welcomed us in its own way, performing songs and dances, inviting us to sit in on classes, and posing for countless pictures. At the Ponte 8 primary school in Marara District, where some children walk as much as 7 kilometers to get to school, lunch is served on handmade rail tables under giant baobab trees. The Thaca primary school, in the district of Cahora Bassa, sits in the center of a large village and lunch is a boisterous, communal affair. At both schools, the local residents talked to us at length, mixing thanks with questions about the future—will their children continue to get enough to eat? What’s needed for them to take care of their own needs? With WFP’s assistance—and the support of Watch Hunger Stop—the children in school today may be able to determine their future for themselves.
Most farms in Mozambique are small, hand-cultivated plots, often farmed by women. Purchase for Progress is a WFP pilot program that supports farmer’s organizations like the one pictured here by offering training and equipment, and by buying food for school meals.
A gift of school supplies, delivered with dramatic flourish by a teacher, brings cheers and smiles to a classroom.