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Close schools and kids are hungry in COVID-19 times

As a response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government of Madagascar closed all schools* and declared a lock-down for major cities, including the capital of Antananarivo in April 2020.

Waiting in line for school food in Madagascar

Consequently, our two schools in the villages remain closed as well to comply with the national requirements. A closed school forces most of our students to go hungry. The mandatory school closure came rather unexpectedly, leaving especially the younger students in limbo, roaming around the village freely, while their parents are very busy during the rice harvest season, leaving for the fields before day break. Zahana decided to assemble our students every day at school to continue to offer the daily school meal.

Getting the Mofo gasy as school meal in Madagascar during COVID-19 times

Starting with this new school year (September 2019) Zahana provides, once again, a meal every day for our students. For most it is still the first meal of their day. The traditional mofo gassy, similar to a rice cake is a major treat, and a motivating draw for students to attend school. When possible, the mofo gasy is accompanied by powdered milk, or, like in these photos, by moringa tea.

Mofo gasy as schoool food in Madagascar- Zahana.org

Last holiday season Santa brought a cup for every child so they could drink something at their school with their very own cup. After the onset of the rainy season, moringa trees started to produce leaves?, and this made fresh moringa leaf tea in the school possible again.

Cooking moringa tea with the school food in Madagascar

Wearing a face mask in public has been made mandatory by the Malagasy government. Leading by example might be the best educational message. Cloth face masks have been provided by Zahana to our teachers and everybody else involved in making and distributing the school meal. We did this in close collaboration with our midwife at the villages’ CARMMA (health center), who does the public health educational outreach about coronavirus prevention measures. She has also been trained to watch for symptoms, such as a possible surge of unusual coughs or fevers. Clinical diagnosis is the only viable option available to her.

Getting moringa tea in the classroom in Madagascar

We assured out teachers that they will be paid by Zahana during the mandatory school closures. Teaching is their only income, and since they have no time for farming, they are forced to buy food to eat. We are all in this together and besides distributing school meals, the teachers keep an eye on the school garden and the tree nursery?, replanting and watering, a task ‘normally’ done by our students.

washing hands in the village school in Madagascar

Last but not least, both of Zahana’s schools have running water, and students are actually in the very fortunate position to be able to wash their hands before they eat. Something that is far from been taken for granted in many places on our planet.

But this is, after all, one of the reasons why platforms like GlobalGiving help us fundraise, because we hope to change this once and for all.

Thank you for your continued support in these strange times without a road map.

* The government just announced that school will reopen next week, but only for the grades that are preparing for national exams.