Many of us have received "CARE packages" at one time or another. College students, service members, or just those with birthdays have all appreciated these special deliveries. It's like a box of presents with a smile.
These kinds of parcels have even played a significant role in world affairs. General Lucius Clay praised the use of CARE packages in Germany after World War II saying, "the physical and psychological effects of this aid were immense."
For a second-grade girl in Yemen named Arwa, a "CARE package" of food rations means something else: an education. When the UN World Food Programme (WFP) provided rations at school, this was an incentive for her parents to send her to class. She would become a breadwinner of sorts.
Living in rural Yemen, Arwa's family is poor and getting basic foods is a struggle. When food prices are high, which they often are in Yemen, it becomes even harder to put bread on the table. In Yemen, over seven million people, one third of the population, are in this food insecurity trap, and many others just barely stay out of the pit.
Arwa and her family are not asking for much. They just want things many of us take for granted. With just one relatively inexpensive plan, WFP was feeding families and providing children like Arwa a chance to learn and become almost anything they set their mind to.
But then the funding cuts came, and this food for education program went by the wayside. How many people know that the WFP food for education program in Yemen has only had one limited distribution since June 2009? WFP relies on voluntary funding from the international community.
School feeding rations are no longer being distributed in Yemen because of low funding for the UN World Food Programme. High food prices and lack of funding have devastated the Food for Education effort in Yemen over the last several years. (WFP/Maria Santamarina)
Tragically, donors have shown little interest in funding projects that feed and educate children in Yemen. It is disastrous policymaking at its worst. For food and education are what will change Yemen in the long run. A country cannot stand, with malnourished and uneducated children.