Shaukat (not pictured), 11, lives in the village of Padhro Soomra in the Thar Desert with his family who have lived there for generations. They feel an affinity towards the land and continue to live there despite the drought and harsh conditions.
His eldest brother was forced to leave their ancestral home to work in Baluchistan as a security guard and is now the breadwinner of the family.
“My family was unsure whether I should go to school as I would not be available to help fetch water from far off wells. But when I told them that I would receive a daily meal they agreed for me to go join my other brothers”.
Shaukat believes that without the food programme at school, he wouldn’t perform as well. “When I’m hungry I wander paths aimlessly, with no goals and purpose in life. I wouldn’t make it to class. I didn’t have confidence”.
The promise of a daily meal has increased school enrolment figures and improved attendance. It allows children to concentrate better, increases support for children to attend school rather than contributing to farm work or housework, and crucially, makes children happier.
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