Jordan’s Princess Haya helps UN boost nutrition of hungry Kenyan children

11 January 2010

United Nations Messenger of Peace Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan blinked back tears as Elizabeth Wanjira, a child living in a slum in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, told her how the meal she eats at school is often the only food she will eat throughout the day.

Princess Haya helped to serve bowls of maize and rice to schoolchildren in the slum last week during her visit to Kenya to see some of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) projects to reach the poor and hungry, the agency said on its web site.

Through its school meals scheme, the agency provides one hot meal – consisting of maize, beans, salt and vegetable oil – a day to Kenya’s poorest children, be they in slums or in arid rural areas.

As a Messenger of Peace, Princess Haya focuses on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and hunger, having founded the first Arab non-governmental organization (NGO) providing food aid to poor families in her native Jordan.

She travelled along unpaved roads surrounded by heaping piles of garbage to reach the Valley View School in the Mathare slum, where she met Elizabeth.

The number of students at the school more than doubled to nearly 900 students after WFP began its school feeding programme.

“My goal is to persuade political leaders and the public to take the Millennium Development Goals seriously and reach out to poor families like those I met in Mathare,” the UN envoy said.

“My message is simple: we do not have our priorities straight,” she stressed. “Food, health and education must come first, particularly for our children.”

While in the slum, Princess Haya also visited Huruma Hospital, where she helped distribute food to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Because so many women were malnourished when they came to the clinic, WFP set up a mother and child health project.

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