THE high mealie-meal prices are causing people in the compounds sleepless nights, a Lusaka-based female charity worker has observed.
Rosemary Mumbi runs a community school in Ng’ombe compound, Hope and Faith Community School, where she feeds more than 500 pupils, old people and other vulnerable members of the community.
On Saturday morning she received a donation of assortment of items including mealie-meal, flour, sugar and cooking oil from China Jiagxi.
Mumbi said she considered the donation a miracle especially that it would help keep many pupils in school.
“I am surprised and amazed at this gift. Mealie meal has gone up to K150 and it is becoming difficult to buy. When we started to feed children, it was going at K30 in 2005. The price has steadily gone up and it is causing us sleepless nights to say ‘how am I going to be able to feed 500 children, 30 members of staff and all the other people who normally walk into this place for a meal’,” she said.
“There is a lot of suffering in the compounds amongst people who don’t have a regular income. A lot of people in this compound depend on piecework. In the rainy season they cut grass, in the dry season people are starving. This gift of mealie-meal is something that will definitely help to keep all the children in school.”
Mumbi called on the government to make mealie-meal affordable for citizens.
She said the feeding programme at her school had helped to achieve a 100 per cent pass rate for the Grades 7 and 9.
Mumbi thanked China Jiagxi for the donation saying it was a warm and brotherly gesture that also taught the children that people everywhere were the same.
China Jiangxi deputy director Lu Wenji said no child deserved to go to school hungry.
Lu said “we all need to work together to improve” the lives of the children.
She pointed out that rich or poor, every child had the birth right to be in school and that concerted efforts were required to achieve that.
“School life of children must be exciting if high passing rates are to be recorded. And it can only be exciting if the basic requirements are met. Children must not go to class on empty stomachs, and to achieve this we must work together to ensure that those that are in need are fed and well looked after,” Lu said. “That is the only way to secure the future. Children deserve to be happy and in school most of the time.”
Lu praised Mumbi and the school staff for the role they were playing in shaping the future of the pupils.
Amongst the donated items were 60 bags of mealie-meal, 20 bags of flour, 20 boxes of cooking oil, sugar, 1,000 pencils, 1,000 exercise books, 500 erasers and pencil sharpeners including a K20,000 cheque.
In a vote of thanks, a Grade 9 pupil, Edna Chombe thanked Lu and China Jiangxi for the donated items saying the pupils had seen how Mumbi struggled to feed them and other members of the community.
Another pupil Songa Loombe, 12 said he was happy for the donation because sometimes pupils went for weeks without a meal at the school.