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Stories from the Field

How an After School Program Can Spark Community Wide Transformation

Payton D Author
By Payton Docheff on June 29, 2021

Alexandra dreams of a roof that doesn’t leak.

At an after-school program in the Nueva Vida neighborhood of Ciudad Sandida, Nicaragua, Alexandra receives warm, nutritious Rise Against Hunger meals. Here, she has learned to read, receives regular help with her homework and has experienced significant improvements in her health.

Alexandra’s home is made of dirt floors and a zinc roof. Her nutrition once depended on her father’s success traveling by bus to sell medicines that day, and days with access to multiple meals were rare. This affected Alexandra’s energy, confidence and ability to do well in school.

Rosa, a leader in the local church that serves the meals, has known Alexandra — now age eight — since she was only four. Rosa shares:

“Alexandra has grown from a shy girl who hardly smiled into a child beaming with confidence. I’ve also seen how her body has developed and looks healthier. She is so intelligent. I want her to set a good example in our neighborhood in the future. I hope she gets out of the poverty in which she has lived.”

The education program, led by our partner ORPHANetwork, teaches fundamental reading and math skills, life skills and nutrition classes for mothers.

The impact goes well beyond the walls of the local church where Alexandra receives her meals. At home, Alexandra helps her mother prepare Rise Against Hunger meals in unique ways. (Her favorite? Soy pancakes!) Over time, the program helps families develop improved hygiene and eating habits. Elena, a program supervisor, reports better attendance in school throughout the community due to healthier families.

With plans to become an entrepreneur, Alexandra understands that her education provides hope for her family’s future:

“I want to help my family and build a better home that will protect us from the rain. The meals give me the strength to stay healthy and be able to perform well in my classes.”

It starts with children receiving nutritious meals. It leads to a community transformed through increased health, literacy and resilience. Want to support bright futures for children like Alexandra? Donate today.