October 1, 2014 | By Roger Thurow

The Last Hunger Season, Part 5 & 6 – Leonida’s Education Priority

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new multi-part film series on Roger Thurow’s The Last Hunger Season. Now through October 16—coinciding with World Food Day 2014—we will be releasing new episodes from the series each week. Part 5 and 6 are now available below. See all episodes.

During the hunger season, Leonida Wanyama not only struggled to feed her children. She also struggled to educate them.

For Leonida, putting her children through school was as important as putting food on the table. At the beginning of the year, she sold her entire maize harvest—which could have fed her family throughout the year—to raise money to pay the high school tuition for her son, Gideon. Gideon was in his third year of high school. Leonida desperately wanted him—her fourth child—to be the first in the family to complete secondary school.

At first, it seemed an unfathomable decision. Selling the harvest meant plunging the family back into another hunger season. But Leonida told me they could cope and somehow make it through; they always had. Yes, she said, the food would have likely satisfied the family for a year. The opportunity to have a high school graduate in the family, though, could yield lifetime benefits. Education of her children, she believed, was the steady, long-term route out of poverty.

The initial tuition payment, however, wasn’t enough to cover the entire year of schooling for Gideon. The principal would regularly send him home for more money to stay in school. Leonida and her husband continued to sacrifice; they sold their little plastic radio and some chickens and tightened their belts further. The deepening hunger season made it harder for Gideon’s three younger sisters to perform their best in school. How can you study on an empty stomach? But their mother said it would pay off in the long run: with a high school diploma, Gideon could get a better job, and he could then help put his sisters through high school.

In these next two videos, Leonida and her husband Peter emphasize the importance of education. And Gideon and his sister Jackline Sitawa, who is in eighth grade and hoping to follow her brother into high school, explain what it is like to be teenagers during the hunger season, how they yearn to accomplish something in school, and achieve a better life even as the food on the table dwindles.


| By Roger Thurow

A Wondrous Journey

Cruising down I-80 in the summer is one of the most wondrous, and paradoxical, drives in the country.

| By Roger Thurow

1,000 Days and Migrant Stress

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time for development, where nutrition--and stability--lay the foundation for a lifetime. 

| By Roger Thurow

Outrage and Inspire with Roger Thurow - Am I About to Lose My Second Child, Too?

The latest podcast in our ongoing series with Roger Thurow. Hear how even the best nutrition projects can be undermined by bad water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lousy infrastructure.  From northern Uganda, we hear a mother’s agony when her healthy, robust child suddenly falls ill after a few sips of water…unclean water, it turned out.

Roger Thurow on SDG 2.2

Roger Thurow sat down with Farming First to talk about the individual and societal consequences of malnutrition. 




Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

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» Order your copy of the book.


The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

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The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

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