Food insecurity a hard reality to escape

Food insecurity a hard reality to escapeFile Photo.

LIMPOPO – For six children from Mashau village, outside Louis Trichardt, being raised by a single parent who is unemployed means the only decent meals they get are through feeding schemes at school.

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“It is so painful not knowing if you’re going to have food to eat tomorrow or not. There is no pain in the world that is worse than being hungry and having absolutely nothing to eat,” said Elisa Mudau (47), mother of the six children.

Food insecurity is an ongoing reality for the Mudaus and thousands of other villagers living in rural Vhembe.

Poor nutrition or insufficient food is linked to several health problems such as obesity, chronic diseases, mental disorders and poor academic performance by hungry children at school.

Poverty and a lack of employment are the main reasons why many villagers don’t have enough to eat. Those with minimal income tend to each cheap foods that lack nutrition and put them at the risk of becoming obese or developing conditions such as obesity and malnutrition.

Handouts

The Mudau family depends on handouts from generous villagers, and therefore cannot choose the food they eat. Even when they know something is unhealthy, they are forced to eat it or go hungry.

Mudau said the situation is negatively affecting her children’s academic performance at school as they struggle to cope with the shortage of food at home.

“Even though my children are performing poorly at school, I do not blame them at all. I am also battling to cope with this situation. We are sometimes forced to sleep on empty stomachs, but there is nothing I can do as the child grant money I receive is not enough to cover all their needs. That money also has to buy school uniforms and stationery,” said Mudau.

The Mudau family depends on handouts from generous villagers, and therefore cannot choose the food they eat. Even when they know something is unhealthy, they are forced to eat it or go hungry.

“The only decent meal my children enjoy is the one they get at school through the feeding scheme, as at home we sometimes go for days without having any food. I am so grateful for the feeding schemes as they make a big difference for many of us who are glad to know the children get healthy food every day at school,” she said.

The Mudaus currently stay in a one-roomed mud house with a collapsing roof.

“I used to work part-time jobs but now I am too sick to do anything. We depend on handouts from the community and the child grant money, which is not enough to carry us all. For us, there is no time to select food which we eat, as we eat anything which comes our way. Our aim is to survive.”

Mashudu Mudau (16), Elisa’s oldest daughter, said: “I get jealous when I see other kids at school eating nice and healthy food. But I keep telling myself that one day all this suffering will come to an end. We hardly eat proper food at home as my mom is struggling to support us as she is unemployed and always sick.”