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Stories from the Field

Farhan’s Dream of Becoming a Doctor Starts With a Meal

By Hannah Payne on September 28, 2022

With dreams of becoming a doctor, 15-year-old Farhan walks more than 3.5 miles every day to and from his school, where he not only receives an education, but also a meal to support his nutritional needs. 

Farhan lives in Dilla, Somaliland. Dilla’s semi-arid climate leads to food and water insecurity for many in the community. Farhan, his nine siblings and his parents often struggle to get food and water. There is a lack of rainwater, which is needed not only for his family, but also for their livestock. Without livestock, they cannot sell milk to make money and, in turn, buy food for themselves. The COVID-19 pandemic also caused inflation, further exacerbating food and water insecurity in the community.

To alleviate food insecurity for children and families in the community, Sh Xasan Taani, the school that Farhan attends, feeds 918 students through a school feeding program. Rise Against Hunger provides cash grants to partner ARAHA, which are used to purchase food locally for school meals. Many students are also able to bring food home to their families, which helps to nourish more people in the community. 

In addition to providing nourishment, the local food procurement stimulates the economy because the food is purchased locally. This was especially important during the pandemic. Mohamoud, the school principal, shares, “This pandemic caused inflation and… the community didn’t get rainwater, which worsened the situation because, if rain comes, the community can get milk to sell and local food to sell and what they get from this they use to fulfill their needs.” 

The school meals have helped make Farhan’s journey to and from school easier, which supports his education and future dreams of becoming a doctor. He shares “[The school feeding program] makes life and travel easier for us as students. Before it was hard to travel back with an empty stomach, and after this activity, it’s easy to go back and travel with a full stomach.”

As Farhan continues attending school and receiving nutritious meals, Mohamoud is hopeful for Farhan’s future, saying, “In the future, I hope that Farhan will be a doctor who will help his community… I hope he will reach his dream one day.”

Join the It Starts With a Meal™️ movement by donating today to support education and nutrition for children — like Farhan — around the world.