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

Rockslide closes Coquihalla northbound

Highway 5 is closed in both directions according to DriveBC

Chilliwack man who made child porn while sexually touching young girls sentenced

Seven years jail for Corey Neyrinck in long-winding case dating back nearly four years

UPDATE: Chilliwack driver who repeatedly fled police with kids on board appeals sentence

Prohibited driver Ryan Winczura initiated police chase four times in 2016 with children in vehicle

Chilliwack Chiefs double up Victoria in BCHL matinee

Two goals from Tommy Lee led the Chiefs past the Grizzlies by a 4-2 count at Prospera Centre.

Gear swap in Langley helps make ball hockey more accessible for kids

A new initiative allows parents to empty garages of unused equipment and get new kids in the sport.

VIDEO: Chilliwack Business Excellence Awards 2017/2018

23rd event was full of entertainment and celebration

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Most Read