I loved Wola Nani and being able to work with Chantal and Bulelwa. When speaking with Chantal and Bulelwa I was surprised about how similar some of the issues they see in their community are to our issues back home. Some include:
- lack of employment opportunities
- lack of access to resources
- lack of resources in general
- poor nutrition
- lack of food
- lack of quality education for most children who live in the townships
- stigma around getting services and the list goes on.
One day I was in Mfuleni, which is one of the townships where Wola Nani is based, and many children come to spend their time after school at Wola Nani because it is a safe place for the children to be and Wola Nani provides educational activities and snacks for the children. On this particular day there were about 30 children that came to Wola Nani early in the day since school is already out for the year. The caregivers were preparing some food for the children which included a small half a cup of juice and two pieces of bread with jelly. Chantal and Bulelwa explained how this may be the only meal some of these children have for the entire day. As I served the children these snacks I felt numb all over and in shock of what was happening right before me. I had only ever heard of children going with no food, I had never experienced or witnessed it right before me. In that moment to see all the children hungry and eating so quickly, my heart felt broken. I just wanted to run to the store and buy all the children food and liquids but this would only be a temporary fix. I struggled with how to work towards a solution for such a large problem. Where do you start? Can these children count on Wola Nani for their meals? How can parents obtain food if they are unemployed and have no transportation?
This experience reminded me of the NGO we visited on Day 3 I believe, where a community food garden was just taking off at a primary school in one of the townships and the goal was to show families how to grow their own food in the limited space they may have. This is a great movement working towards the hunger issues these children face. It is difficult to come back home and have access to all the food I want with no limitations but to know the children I interacted with are hungry. You cannot disconnect from that and I feel an obligation to help in any way I can and that is where I am in this moment, how can I help, what can I do. Lack of proper nutrition impacts school performance and growth development.