Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's baby is already a blessing to many SA kids

14 April 2019 - 00:00 By SUMIN WOO


A South African charity has won the support of Britain's newest royal even before he or she is born.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex - better known as Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle, a US actress - have named the Lunchbox Fund as one of four charities they would like people to support instead of sending a gift for their baby, expected to arrive any day.
Within two days of Harry and Meghan's announcement to their 4-million Instagram followers, donations reached the charity from 11 countries.
The Lunchbox Fund, which has delivered 20-million meals in all nine provinces since being founded in 2005 by Topaz Page-Green, feeds children in schools and at early learning centres.
Former model Page-Green said the royal seal of approval will have a "tremendous impact" on its ability to support children's education.
"Our hope is to . access every nook and cranny in the country where children are being unjustly . blocked from getting the food they need because of circumstances they are not in control of," she said.
"Children have the right to learn without being drowsy because they haven't got anything in their stomach. What we're aiming to do here is facilitate a child's ability to learn. The way these kids are going to learn is by being nutritionally fuelled."
Over the past year, the Lunchbox Fund has seen a 34% increase in attendance and a 29% increase in registrations at the schools it works with."In classes, children are able to concentrate more because they're not hungry," said Zikhona Mangqalaza, a teacher at Molo Mhlaba School in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. "They're better focused after they eat their meals. It's not easy teaching a hungry child."Antoinette Makhetshame, principal at the Masakhe Educare Centre in Delft, also in Cape Town, said access to food was an incentive for children to attend school.The Lunchbox Fund works with other community organisations to support after-school programmes, where it also provides food. In larger schools, the organisation pays stipends to "food mamas", women who prepare and serve meals.MD Sue Wildish said schools often spent money intended for food on other necessities, including infrastructure, equipment and salaries.Molo Mhlaba principal Rethabile Sonibare said: "We would have had to pay quite a bit, about R20,000 a month, on food. By being able to release that fund in our budget, we're able to make sure that every classroom has a teaching assistant."Wildish said the Lunchbox Fund's contribution had effects that reached beyond the lunch table. "A child gets an education and stays to get an education, and is more likely to get a job and become a civic-minded individual giving back to the country," she said.

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