Ejidiah Wangui NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
It was a few minutes to 08.00 a.m.
and a thick cloud of dust flew past five-year-old
Daniel Otieno, as he struggled to catch up with his
siblings on their way to school.
Otieno wiped the dust off his eyes to regain some
visibility on the busy path, his siblings had
disappeared into the crowd of thousands of people
rushing along with the traffic.
He arrived in school at 8:30 a.m.
At least he was not late for a cup of porridge, a
main motivation for going to school, which is 5 km
away from home.
Otieno began to attend the school when he was
only two years old.
His teacher Victor Omollo said one day he
followed his siblings to school and nothing could
turn him back ever since.
He wants to be a neurosurgeon when he grows up.
"He is one of the pupils who has never missed
class unless he is sick which is rare.
"He loves school but one of the reasons behind
this love is the cup of porridge they get in the
morning and at 3.00 p.m. before going home," said
Sometimes, the two cups of porridge are all
Otieno has for the day as a meal is not assured at
His parents are casual workers in Nairobi’s
Industrial area and their jobs are not guaranteed.
There are days they will come back home
His school in Kibera slum, an informal settlement
southwest of Kenya’s capital Nairobi is among a few
that have benefited from a feeding program - Cup
of Uji (porridge), initiated by Francis Amonde
Speaking to Xinhua on Wednesday, 27-year-old
Amonde said the feeding program takes up to 3
million Kenya shillings (30,000 U.S. dollars) per
year which caters to nearly 2,000 underprivileged
"I started the program in 2011 when I was 21, I
one day walked into a primary school in Western
Kenya where my late mother was a teacher.
"I was moved when I saw children sleeping under
trees looking frail and lost.
"Most of these children were being raised by
their grandparents who did not have any source of
"Food was a luxury in most homes, from then on I
decided to do something," said Amonde.
According to 2018 Global Health Report, millions
of children under five years suffer from acute
malnutrition due to poor feeding habits arising from
lack of enough nutritious food.
Africa is one of the two continents that bear the
greatest share of all forms of malnutrition. Omollo
recalled one day a child passed away in class due to
"Some of the children walk long distances to
school on empty stomachs.
"Before the program, school attendance was really
low but the situation changed when they started
getting a cup of porridge.
"Sometimes, it’s all they look forward to when
they wake up in the morning.
"I feel joy when I see them happy because their
stomachs are full, and they gain knowledge," said
For Amonde, the fact that a child leaves home
every morning to drink a cup of porridge in school,
is enough reason to keep him going.
Raising money to fund the project has not been a
walk in the park.
He was once at wits end after exhausting all the
cash he had on the project and the only person he
thought of was President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He logged into his twitter account and messaged
Kenyatta requesting him to chip into his little
"The president’s social media managers got back
to me immediately and by 05.00 a.m. the following
morning, we had raised enough money that pushed us
forward for a while.
"I was able to bring in more schools that had
sent me proposals and from then on I have never
"I have a few more partners and hope more will
come on board as I want to extend the program to as
many schools as possible across the country," said
The government in October 2018 took over from the
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) the
responsibility for providing lunch to 1.6 million
school children in arid and semi-arid areas of the
Since the 1980s, school meals in Kenya have been
the joint responsibility of WFP and the ministry of
Kenya launched a home-grown school meals program
in 2009 as a nationally-owned and government-led
program and started giving hot meals to more than
half a million children who were initially fed
Home-grown school meals are cash-based, meaning
that schools receive a cash allocation each term
from the Treasury to buy food for school children
from local markets.
This model boosts not only school attendance but
also local economies and agricultural production.
The government has set aside 24 million dollars
to cater for school meals in the 2018/19 financial