Samira’s Story: Early Childhood Education in Burundi

‘a cup of fortified porridge three times a week’


By Connie Green, Professor Emerita, Appalachian State University

"My name is Samira. I am 6 years old and I live in Butanuka, Burundi. Many months ago, I was very sick and couldn't walk as I wanted. My mom brought me and my younger sister to the feeding center for porridge. I had never tasted the sugared porridge before in my life. At home, we eat Ugali (made from cassava flour) and beans every night. After coming many times to the feeding program, my condition changed. Today I am not a malnourished girl; I am a strong girl. At the end of February 2020, Dreaming for Change started a preschool with 28 children and I am one of them. I am glad I met friends like Corine, Jessica, and Lola. We come four times a week and I have learned how to count, draw, sing songs, and listen to stories." (As told by Samira and her mother.)

Samira is fortunate to live near a feeding center; her mother could bring her and three younger children there to be checked by a nurse to determine their nutritional status. Two older children in the family attend public schools. Samira’s father works in a nearby city, returning home every month or two. Samira’s mother struggles to feed her six children on the dollar or two a day she is able to earn working odd jobs, such as planting and harvesting rice.

In 2018, Janvier Manirakiza and I developed a nutrition program for young children in Burundi, where 56% of children, ages 6-59 months, suffer from chronic malnutrition. The nutrition program provides young children and pre- and postnatal women with a cup of fortified porridge three times a week to supplement their diets. In 2020, I was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of State to start a preschool. The resulting Butanuka Community Preschool is the first early childhood program in the rural Mpanda Commune in the province of Bubanza, Burundi...

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