1,200 excited students hold plates as they gather outside a makeshift hut —an enormous pot bubbles over a fire as smoke pours out. Lunch is at 1 pm. It’s 12:30. Queues are forming.

A brutal drought has compounded Tanzania’s struggle with the rising global cost of living. Scarcity is tightening its grip on those who didn’t have much to start. 

Being inured to hardship means you are unsurprised when it happens. It’s just part of your reality. The downside is that there isn’t mass protest when children are hungry— no outrage, demonstrations, or demands for change. People just knuckle down and persevere.

Most of the parents of Chem Chem Primary are farmers. Their crops failed this year, leaving them unable to contribute to the school’s food bank. The school ran out of food in February. Attendance dropped.

Children began staying home or spending their days searching for food. The school called parent meetings, urging them to make their food contributions. Parents could see the necessity but had nothing to give. 

Students fell asleep in class. Some even fainted. Teachers rush them to the office, and it’s always the case that they haven’t eaten for a while. They call their parents in, only to learn they haven’t eaten. 

What do you do?

We see this and can’t accept it. That’s how it came to be that although we’re technically a clean water charity, we are started distributing food – 15 tons so far

Chem Chem Primary’s share arrived. The teachers remarked on the quality of the cornmeal, and the mung beans, which are a luxury most can’t afford. 

Finally, lunch is ready. The littlest go first. The students leave the makeshift hut carrying their precious meals with extraordinary care. They eat on the field with friends, licking their plates clean. A full stomach.

And the knowledge that there’ll be another meal tomorrow is even more valuable.

The food won’t last forever, but its importance goes beyond the number of meals it stretches to. We are feeding hope. We are showing that even when things are inconceivably hard, there is still reason to believe in something better.

Fostering hope builds a bridge between two worlds. We can lend it, but we can also borrow from it. When our own hardships seem more than we can bear, please remember…

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

– Emily Dickinson

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