The 50-Cent Dream: How Blockchain Brings Uganda’s Children Back to School
To many people, 50 cents is a tiny, insignificant amount. But for the children of Uganda, this makes the difference between a bright future and a life of hunger.
It takes 50 cents to feed a child in Uganda through breakfast and lunch each day. But a lot of families in the country struggle to earn enough to feed their children. Some schools, like the Jolly Mercy Learning Centre in Uganda, strive to sponsor meals for more than 200 students, but they too scramble for resources. As a result, hunger is a major problem in the school. Students take their classes with empty stomachs in the afternoon. Some of them drop out of school altogether.
Through the Lunch for Children program of Binance Charity, crypto donations turn into food for these students. When they use these donations to pay for lunch, children learn how blockchain can bring forth change and give them a chance to be one step closer to their dreams. Since the program started last month at the Jolly Mercy Learning Centre, 181 children are able to eat lunch every day. Even better, 39 children have returned to school, now that they don’t have to worry about hunger.
Watch this video to see how Binance Charity’s Lunch for Children program brings a better future for Uganda’s children.
Read the stories from three of Uganda’s children, whose futures are being built, 50 cents at a time.
Joen: “I was lucky enough to get help. Now I want to help.”
Joen is an orphan in Kasangati village. When she was 6, her father passed away from complications due to AIDS, a deadly disease quite common in Uganda, which has 1.3 million HIV carriers and a 5.9% adult infection rate.
Joen was then adopted by Jolly Mercy, where she performed well at school. She graduated from the school last year and enrolled in middle school. A talented singer, she wanted to pursue singing as a career, but she thinks it’s an expensive dream. “I think I’d better be a lawyer, so I can earn a lot of money for my family and help other people,” she said.
Although she already graduated from Jolly Mercy, Joen, now 16 years old, goes back to the school every day. She wakes up at 5 AM, while it is still dark outside, to help Grandma, the school cook and parent to one of the students. At 7 AM, she waves goodbye to Grandma and walks to her middle school to start her own day. Her two hours of help in the morning mean a lot to the school, which is facing severe funding issues.
This year, Joen volunteered for the Lunch for Children program to guide the students’ parents on how to open their crypto wallets. For most of these parents, this is their only opportunity to have their own wallets and accounts. They don’t have access to land and job opportunities, hindering them from having a steady income source. Opening a bank account, which is very costly to open and maintain, is out of the question.
“I was lucky enough to get support from the Jolly Mercy Learning Centre and the generous public, and I respect them. However, I know there are still hundreds of miserable children suffering from similar issues like me, so I just want to help with my hands,” she said.
Bratrice: “Water is food.”
Best Quality school has 649 registered students, but only 28 of them can afford the lunch meals provided by the school. A lot of Uganda’s families can only send their children to public schools, where tuition is free. However, these children often cannot afford to buy food, so they have to stay in class with an empty stomach. About 200 students have to walk all the way back home for lunch every day. The others can only drink water to combat hunger.
Bratrice, a Primary 6 (or Grade 6) student, is one of those children who drink water for lunch every day. She is often too hungry to talk or focus in class. However, she is still hopeful for the future. She has lost a lot of friends growing up, so she dreams of becoming a surgeon to help people in her village.
Elijah: “I want to become an engineer.”
Elijah is a student at Jolly Mercy. The 10-year-old, a smart young boy with innocent eyes, likes science and is very curious about new things. Like all of his friends, he learns computer lessons on the blackboard and has maize flour and beans for lunch. When we asked about his computer lessons, he was very excited. “Teacher will draw a big computer on the blackboard and teach us about each component of a computer,” he said, “I wish teacher could schedule computer lesson right after lunch so that I wouldn't be hungry in this class”.
Binance donated two computers to the school, to help families who can’t use smartphones to open crypto wallets and receive donations. Ever since he saw the computers, Elijah was so attracted to them that he spends all day near them, learning about cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
He starts to learn about crypto wallets and how they are used to buy lunch. He understands that his parents can buy lunch -- a local cornmeal porridge called ugali, together with some vegetables and beans -- with a single click. He now knows that all these information are stored on something called the blockchain.
A ten-year-old kid in Uganda knows about blockchain many years ahead of his peers in China or the US.“My dream is to become an engineer, so that I can help give Uganda’s children nutritious food in the future,” Elijah said.
Blockchain is Bringing Children Back to School
In Uganda, many kids don’t know that potatoes grow underground. The reason: many of them have never seen a potato in their lifetime. Uganda has the best climate and arable soil for cultivation, but not everyone has access to land. Kids growing up in impoverished families sometimes have to drop out of school because of hunger. For them, the distance to their dream to become an artist, a surgeon, or an engineer is just a few cents worth of lunch. We want these children to stay in school, and blockchain allows us to keep them there, and then some.
This year, Binance Charity launched the Lunch for Children initiative, which is dedicated to the use of cryptocurrency to support free lunch for school children. The initiative kicked off at the Jolly Mercy Learning Centre in Uganda, where 200 kids get crypto donations from all around the world. These donations are transferred within a second with the help of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Under this transparent and immutable system, a few cents mean nutritious food in students’ bowls, healthier school children, and better futures.
After Jolly Mercy, Binance Charity will support 10 more schools in Uganda via the Lunch for Children program. The next vetted school is Best Quality, a rural school in the Wakiso district in Uganda. It provides kindergarten to primary school education all year round to kids living in nearby slums. It currently has 649 students, including 230 girls. All the students in Best Quality cannot afford formal lunch, and 86% of them cannot afford living costs. With your donations, we hope these kids won’t need to worry about their lunch anymore. They will have full stomachs and sharp minds focused on learning. They will also have a clean and safe kitchen at school so that they can have even better meals.
Click here to donate to Binance Charity Foundation.
Click here to donate to the Lunch for Children program for Best Quality Schools.