Princess Haya joins WFP fighting hunger in Nairobi slums

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HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein, a UN Messenger of Peace, took a turn serving bowls of maize and beans to school children in a Nairobi slum on Friday. For many of the kids, this meal was the only food they would receive throughout the day.

NAIROBI -- HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein was moved to tears after she had finished speaking to Elizabeth Wanjira, one of the children she met at the Valley View School in Mathare, a Nairobi slum. Elizabeth told the Princess how her mother struggles daily to feed her at home, and that sometimes the meal she has in school is the only food that she eats in a day.

A United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special interest in nutrition, Princess Haya came to Kenya to visit some of the projects through which WFP gets nutritious food to the hungry poor.

Designated as a UN Messenger of Peace in September 2007, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan is known for her commitment to humanitarian causes.

Through the school meals programme, WFP gives one hot meal a day to the poorest children, be they in slums or in arid rural areas. In Kenya, this meal consists mainly of maize, beans, salt and vegetable oil. This is much more than most people in Nairobi's slums can afford.

Valley View School is on the outskirts of Mathare, one of the capital's biggest slums. To get to it, you have to travel along unpaved roads, surrounded by rubbish. Few people here have running water and electricity.

Princess Haya helped serve school meals to the children, who were delighted at the chance to meet 'a real princess.' Since school feeding started in 2005, the number of students has more than doubled to 867 students.

Princess Haya has long been a supporter of WFP, because hunger is of special concern to Her in Her capacity as a UN Messenger of Peace. She founded the first Arab NGO providing food assistance to poor families in her native country, Jordan.

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

As well as visiting the school meals project, Princess Haya also visited Huruma Hospital in the same slum. Despite electricity and water shortages, Huruma hospital still manages to treat patients, in desperate need to medical care. WFP started distributing food in a new Mother and Child Health project in 2009, because so many pregnant and breast feeding mothers were malnourished when they came to the clinic. Princess Haya helped distribute food to the mothers.