How Two Extra Meals Changed Elizabeth's Life

11/09/15

The sun has set in Uganda, and six-year-old Elizabeth is almost done with her chores. She has walked to the river, filled her bucket high with water, and walked home with it carefully balanced on her head. She has taken a portion of this water, poured it into a basin, and bathed her baby cousin.

Her last task of the day is to build a fire. As the flames grow, her family gathers around with hungry eyes. Elizabeth waits to eat her first and last meal of the day

 


                                            Many families in Uganda survive on only one meal a day.
 

In the morning there will be no breakfast. Elizabeth will get up before the sun, haul more water to wash the dishes from their late supper the night before, sweep her one-room home, and walk to school. Sitting in her second-grade classroom, Elizabeth will try her hardest to understand what the teacher is saying. But inevitably, her mind will drift to her empty belly. Then her tired eyes will start to droop. 
 
That was Elizabeth’s life. Day after day, she showed up for class with an empty stomach and fought to stay awake, only eating in the evenings. “There was never anything like breakfast or lunch,” she remembers.  “I could not concentrate on anything, but I just slept in class because of hunger.”
Elizabeth’s body bore the burden of her malnutrition. Her tiny frame was frail and weak, her hair orange at the edges. But the unseen effects of her hunger were even greater. 


        Elizabeth was suffering from malnutrition when she first entered COTN's child sponsorship program.
 
You see, every time Elizabeth lay down her head and slept through the lesson, her chances of ever changing her situation got that much smaller. Without even a basic education, Elizabeth had very few options for the future. She would end up doing what her uncle did now, and what her parents did before they passed away—running small-scale farms that barely produced enough to survive on. 
 
So when Elizabeth began receiving meals through Children of the Nations’ child sponsorship program, a lot changed for her. Initially, it was just physical. “I physically look good and healthier because I get two meals at school and one at home,” the third-grader says today with a smile. “I now always have a full day’s food.” 


   With the extra meals each day, the physical difference in Elizabeth is clear. But the change goes deeper than that.
 
As her hungry body absorbed the nutrition she so desperately needed, Elizabeth’s performance in school began to change. She no longer fell asleep in class, and found she picked up the material quite quickly. Within a year, Elizabeth had risen to one of the top spots in her class. “She is bold and very smart in class,” says Hadrine Akullo, COTN-Uganda’s sponsorship coordinator. 
 
Elizabeth is part of COTN’s child sponsorship program, so she receives a lot more than just meals. She attends COTN’s school, where her tuition and school supplies are covered by her sponsors. She receives Christian discipleship and social care as well, through the in-country staff who check up on her and her family. There are a lot of reasons she is doing so well. But those extra meals are the foundation for her success. Without them, she’d still be too weak to concentrate on anything but the pain in her belly. 
 
Many of the children COTN serves testify to the difference meals have made in their lives. Francisco Kalima, who just graduated from college in Malawi, remembers breaking down in tears in the middle of class because he was so hungry.
 
The holiday season is approaching here in our land of plenty. Your family or friends will probably gather over many meals in the next few months. Doubtless there will be gifts involved. 
 
As you plan your meals and presents, think about this: You have a beautiful opportunity to give a child like Elizabeth not just meals, but a new future. Though child sponsorship covers sponsored children's food, many children do not yet have sponsors, and extra funding for food is often needed. Through our Christmas Gift Catalog, you can provide food for a child like Elizabeth as a gift to a loved one. 

           You can provide 4 months of meals for a needy child, for just $30. Visit the COTN Gift Catalog today!