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Thailand: School Lunches Make a Big Difference for Hungry Students

World Vision's program provides children with much-needed nutrition during the day, helping them make the most of their education.

December 2007

When she's not at school, Parichart, 12, helps out on her family's farm. Parichart is one among many students in Thailand who benefit from World Vision's school lunch program.
When she's not at school, Parichart, 12, helps out on her family's farm. Parichart is one among many students in Thailand who benefit from World Vision's school lunch program.
© 2007 Somluck Khamsaen/World Vision
In Thailand's most impoverished communities, some students know firsthand what it's like to come to school with empty stomachs.

Here, World Vision staff developed a school lunch program to provide students with nutritious meals. Two children in particular — Parichart and Siriphong, both 12 — can now focus on their studies and stop worrying about how they'll get their next meal.

A Little Farmer

Before the school lunch program began at her school, Parichart often went hungry at lunchtime. Occasionally, her teacher would bring food for the big-hearted, diligent student.

But Parichart was used to feeling hungry. Her father's unstable income as a fruit-picker couldn't provide enough food for each meal, and their small farm hardly grew enough rice for the family.

Because of her mother's epilepsy and osteoarthritis, Parichart helped as much as possible on the family farm, regularly working long hours after school and on weekends. Farming is hard work — especially for a girl of Parichart's age. But she was proud and happy to help out.

"Her hands are frail and weak," Parichart says, speaking of her mother. "I love my mum. I don't want her to tire herself out. I've been working like this since I was in grade 5. It isn't much. I want to help her; if I don't, we won't have rice."

Thankfully, when World Vision offered to help vulnerable families in the area, Parichart's teacher recommended her for the program.

Parichart no longer goes hungry because of the World Vision farming project. The program provided resources for the students to raise their own red tilapia fish and grow their own rice, fruit, and vegetables to eat for lunch at school.

"I'm glad that World Vision has helped us," says Parichart. "My mum is no longer worried about money … She wants me to study as much as I can. In the future, I want to be a teacher so that I can help other children the way I have been helped."

When Parichart says her prayers at night, she says, "I pray that my mum will be cured of her sickness. I pray for my family's happiness and for my future as a teacher."

SLIDESHOW: Feeding Children Around the World

View a Thanksgiving slideshow with several more examples of how World Vision's food security programs have helped cut down on hunger and malnutrition among children, enabling them to reach their God-given potential, like Parichart and Siriphong in Thailand.

An Aspiring Artist

Thanks to help from World Vision, Kaeoma's 12-year-old grandson, Siriphong, has nutritious lunches to eat at school and can now hone his God-given talents.
Thanks to help from World Vision, Kaeoma's 12-year-old grandson, Siriphong, has nutritious lunches to eat at school and can now hone his God-given talents.
© 2007 Somluck Khamsaen/World Vision

Siriphong is from a remote and impoverished district of northern Thailand. He is an exceptionally creative child — gifted in art, music, and sports. But his family's lack of resources impeded the development of these talents.

"My parents have split up," Siriphong says. "I don't know where they are. I've been with my granny since I was born. She is like a mother to me."

But his grandmother, Kaeoma, is not always well enough to work. When she is, she earns less than $1 per day sorting spring onions at a local farm. Siriphong helped with chores — fetching water, doing laundry, and cooking whatever food they could find in the forest. Sometimes their kind neighbors would share some vegetables or eggs.

Before World Vision began working in his community two years ago, Kaeoma felt ashamed that her grandson had nothing to eat for lunch and had no money for the bus. And whenever she became ill, Siriphong had to stay home from school to work, causing his teachers to worry about his future. Siriphong has received national awards for art, science, and technology. His school is proud of him because, despite his circumstances, he is a very talented boy.

When World Vision staff began working around Siriphong's school, they asked teachers to identify cases of extreme need. Siriphong's name was mentioned right away. His teacher hoped that help from World Vision would allow him to attend school regularly — and it did.

Now, through the World Vision program, Siriphong has all the resources he needs to develop his God-given talents: bus fees, school uniforms, books, school supplies, and even lunch. World Vision workers also visited Kaeoma and Siriphong at home to see how they could help, bringing gifts of rice, a flock of chicks, and thatch to fix the leaking roof. The gift of chicks two years ago has grown into a thriving flock of hens that provide much-needed income.

"I'm happy, living with my granny," says Siriphong. "We eat chicken meat. Sometimes, we sell the chickens to buy groceries. When I grow up, I want to be a football player or an artist …With [World Vision's] support, I realized that I can make my dreams come true."

Granny Kaeoma agrees. "I'm glad that World Vision came to us. Thank you so much for giving us chickens. Siriphong is happy that he can go to school, paint, and play football with his friends. I want to see him happy like this everyday."

Learn More

>> View a Thanksgiving slideshow detailing more of World Vision's food security projects across the globe.

Three Ways You Can Help

>> Praise God for the stories of Parichart and Siriphong, who are now able to fully pursue their talents and potential after receiving consistent access to nutritious food at school. Pray for other children who are still hungry, and pray for World Vision staff as they work in areas of the world where food shortages are a problem.
>> Give monthly to help children around the world who are suffering from hunger. Your generous gift will help hungry children acquire nutritious food, which helps them grow and reach their God-given potential.
>> Donate now to provide educational supplies to a child like Parichart or Siriphong. Providing a child with basic items like uniforms, backpacks, paper, pens, pencils, and other essentials can create an educational success story.

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