Tag Archives: Burma

Beans, Eggs & Tinned Fish: Room to Grow Fights Malnutrition, One Bite at a Time

Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters – are eating more nutritious meals thanks to support from ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners.  However funding for these programmes expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward.

The children stay or live near one of three schools and boarding houses, which provide shelter and education to children who have been orphaned, abandoned or separated from their families by conflict. Malnutrition is a serious issue in these communities. A recent survey by Room to Grow indicates that more than 40 percent of migrant students in this area are showing signs of stunted growth due to poor diets.

ONE (SINGAPORE) funding is used to purchase and deliver yellow lentils and eggs, which provide protein in a rice and vegetable diet that is otherwise protein deficient. During the last quarter of 2011, an additional contribution by ONE (SINGAPORE) provided money for rice, vegetables, protein, condiments, tinned fish and multivitamins to be served to children at the Shwe The Zin boarding school.

Not everything goes as smoothly as we’d like. Due to problems with a supplier, the delivery of vitamins did not start in November as planned, but in January instead. ONE (SINGAPORE)’s support will still provide a five-month supply of the multi-vitamins.

Room to Grow meanwhile organised nutrition workshops for cooks and teachers from 21 schools, including the three supported by ONE (SINGAPORE). The course equipped them with proper knowledge on preparing healthy meals.

“The children like to eat yellow bean soup more than the other curries. We also cook egg curry twice a week and tinned fish three or four times a week,” says a teacher/cook at STZ. “If we don’t go to the market, we cook tinned fish and veggies that are from our school garden.”

“The children get energy by eating those curries,” adds the school’s garderner who is also the assistant cook. “And it is very nutritious for the children. We also adjust children’s meals with nutrition sources that we learned from the nutrition training. One good news is that we use less MSG in the curries.”

The young migrants staying in these boarding houses clearly appreciate the meals.

“I am a boy who overeats,” says a Grade 3 student at SAW who loves the meals at the centre. “Sometimes, I get in eating competitions with my friends. For breakfast, I usually have rice and egg but we eat beans and rice also every week. For dinner, I like to eat bean and meat curries. I want the donor to watch us when we are eating so they can see how much I eat.”

During the funding period, nearly 245 kilograms of yellow lentils, 1445 eggs and 57 kilograms of rice were delivered and consumed by the children.

Additional Resources

Voices from “Room to Grow”

ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners support a nutrition programme run by the Room to Grow Foundation in schools and boarding houses near the Thai-Burmese border. Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters and currently living in areas where malnutrition is common – have been eating better meals, with more protein and vitamins, thanks to this initiative. However funding expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward. Here are some of the ‘Room to Grow’ voices . . .

21 Jan 2012 (1)

21 Jan 2012 (2)

21 Jan 2012 (3)

Related Articles and Resources

Fighting Malnutrition & Encouraging Dreams among Climate Refugees

ONE (SINGAPORE) is teaming up with the Room to Grow Foundation for the second time to provide nutritional support to orphans and other ‘unparented’ migrant children along the Thai-Burmese border.

More than 180 students at the Shwe The Zin school near Mae Sot, Thailand will receive multivitamins three times a week for the duration of the school year, from 1 November 2011 to 31 March 2012. Twenty-five students who are boarding at the facility will also enjoy better meals with beans, eggs, vegetables and other forms of protein.

“Room to Grow does an excellent job fighting malnutrition and working with children from a marginalised community,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow. “The children and their families have fled violence, conflicts and ‘natural’ disasters in Burma. Their home region is actually a frontline victim of climate change.”

Most of the students at the Shwe The Zin school come from families that fled Burma after Cyclone Nargis ripped through the Irawaddy Delta in 2008, leaving untold numbers of people homeless. They now live in villages in Thailand that do not offer educational opportunities for Burmese children.

Shwe The Zin is one of 60+ informal migrant schools in the Mae Sot community. Approximately 85 per cent of the school’s students live in surrounding plantation zones where their parents work as day laborers; other students live in factories where their parents are employed.

She The Zin has largely functioned without regular support from donors. The headmaster, a monk who was active during Burma’s 2007 Saffron Revolution, raises money to feed children boarding at the school by telling fortunes, doing astrological readings and selling herbal medicines. But these efforts are unfortunately not sufficient to provide the children with well-balanced meals. The Room to Grow Foundation — a charity that provides food and other necessities to children so “they can go to school with a full belly” — has been working with She The Zin since June 2011. R2G works to ensure that children can “go to sleep safely with a mind full of dreams they will one day be able to realize”.

“It has been inspiring to see the headmaster working hard to generate income for his school in order to pay for rent, utilities, school stationary and transport for children living far from school,” says R2G project coordinator Jennifer Jones. “It has also been difficult to see needs remain unmet. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with ONE(SINGAPORE) to ensure that the children living at the school receive regular meals and good nutrition.”

ONE (SINGAPORE)’s support for this programme was made possible by a donation from The Superseed Trust.

Additional Resources

  • Photos (Facebook | Flickr)
  • An update on ONE (SINGAPORE)’s first donation to Room to Grow
  • About Room to Grow
  • Radio broadcast about Room to Grow

Making a Difference in Children’s Lives: An Update from Room to Grow

More than 150 ‘unparented’ children — who have escaped violence in their home communities in Burma and are currently living near the Thai-Burmese border – are eating more nutritious meals, thanks to the support of ONE (SINGAPORE)’s partners.

Earlier this year, ONE (SINGAPORE) pledged S$2343 to a nutritional programme run by Room To Grow. This donation is providing 153 children with a better diet that includes yellow beans and eggs.

These fresh nutritional supplements cost just S$15 per child or about 29 cents per child per week. ONE (SINGAPORE)’s sponsorship of this programme was made possible by support from Pernod Ricard and Zirca.

Our donation is funding food at two programmes in Mae Sot, Thailand: the Agape school and boarding house and the SAW Safehouse for orphaned and abandoned children. Distribution of the nutritional supplements follows the local school year, which runs from April through March.

As promised, we would like to share the latest updates from Room to Grow. Below are some quotes from the project’s Food Programme Report for the first half of the year. We’ve also uploaded some great photos!

An excerpt from Food Programme Report, Q1 & Q2 2011
“During the funding period, a total of 221 kilograms of yellow lentils and 820 eggs were delivered and consumed by children. From the total funds provided, just over 70 per cent funded yellow lentil purchases for 153 children, 22 per cent funded eggs for 100 children and the remaining funds were used for transportation and monitoring to begin the project. The project is currently on budget and projections indicate that we will be able to offer the same level of funding for yellow lentils and eggs until the end of March 2012.”

HTY, Care Giver for SAW Safe House, explaining the nutritional value of yellow beans
“Eating yellow beans often is so good for the children, and children like to eat yellow beans curry. If we can get yellow beans for the entire year, it will have a great effect on the children because beans give them good nutrition. Children should eat bean curry at least 2-3 times a week. Eating beans, makes children’s bones strong, and they can grow fast. Beans are easy to cook, and we have many different ways to cook beans.”

KYT, Grade 2 student, Agape, on his favourite meal
“We can grow fast if we eat beans two or three times a week. I like to eat bean and vegetable curry. And I want to eat chicken curry once a week. I went to the kitchen first if the cook cooked egg and beans soup, but for the other curries, I was late to go to the kitchen.”

Additional Resources

  • ONE (SINGAPORE) Food Programme Report, Q1 & Q2 2011 (Prepared by Room to Grow)
  • What is Room To Grow?
  • Photos (Facebook | Flickr)
  • Radio broadcast about Room to Grow (“Poverty No More”, 938LIVE, 17 September 2011)