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

Two types of civic engagement in PIB

Some voted in the byelection, others protested the polls, as Penticton Indian Band fissures continue

Penticton Vees look to carry offensive punch to Trail

Penticton Vees scored 28 goals in three games

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Penticton man fights to stay in Canada, keep life-saving health care

If Kris Reyes is denied permanent residency, the cost of his dialysis would run too high to keep up

Electrical box sparks fire in industrial zone

Penticton Fire Department responded to the electrical fire at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

BC Transit buses to get safety door for drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Most Read