One of the biggest daily tasks here at The Esther School in addition to educating the students, is feeding them. Our feeding program has evolved since the beginning of the school year, and will continue to as we move forward, but we strive to provide nutritious foods for the children each and every day that they are here at school. This varies from day to day, but every day they have breakfast and a large snack before they are dismissed from school at 1 p.m. Zambians eat lunch later in the afternoon, so the students arrive home in time to have their meal with their families as well. The foods the children are served include: Hard-boiled eggs, high-nutrient porridge, dried fruits, bananas, mangoes, biscuits, sliced veggies, and their favorites: Zucchini and banana bread. They love our home made breads, and of course, they have never had either of them prior to their time at the school. We currently have a large crop of zucchinis growing in the school's field (as well as several other vegetables), and so last week, Tina and Arika gathered with 7 parents (6 mamas and even 1 dad!) to teach them to bake zucchini bread over a charcoal stove. We set up an assembly line on tables where they mixed their ingredients and grated zucchini. We used aluminum bread loaf pans, as well as aluminum cans (we were exploring options for what they could do to bake, even on their own, in their huts with limited supplies). It was amazing to see how excited they were to try something new and how eager they were to learn! They were so proud of the bread that they made and loved the sample that they tried! The bread that they baked will be used as part of the students' snack on Monday.

As is always part of our goal here, we are striving to encourage an attitude of accountability among parents here at the school in order to foster an ownership mentality about their role in helping to advance this school, their children, and ultimately, their community. This requires that we often teach new skills and new ways of thinking where there is often otherwise a very limited mindset. It is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the model of this school, but without the parents' involvement, this school will not succeed. We applaud the energy and commitment of so many of the parents, as they embrace so many new things and recognize the opportunity that is being offered to their children and their families.

Our program with the parents will continue to grow, and this is only one facet of the program as a whole, but it is our desire that the parents are able to gain some independence in preparing food at the school, as well as offering healthy and varied foods in their own homes to their children whenever possible. While this is challenging with their limited means, it is also often limited by their lack of knowledge about food and health. We hope to expand on this as well through educating them about various foods, especially ones that they are able to grow easily here on the school grounds and in their own personal gardens.

Enjoy some of the photos of our group as they baked on Friday....

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