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What’s For Lunch? 15 Kids From Asia Answer To Make This Crucial Point

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By Mark Nonkes

From Mongolia to Papua New Guinea, take a look at a typical lunchtime for children. Sticky rice or jackfruit, pork or fried eel – the meals are a rainbow of delicacies. Children from 15 countries showed us what’s for lunch in Asia to celebrate ‘World Food Day’.

Are you hungry yet?

Bangladesh: Fish, Vegetable Curry And Peas

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Photo credit: Shabir Hussein

Usually I love meat for my lunch but my mother says vegetables!”
Five-year-old Yunar’s lunch is a plate full of rice with a piece of fish, vegetable curry, peas, and a glass of water. Yunar usually goes home for lunch, after attending pre-primary classes. She lives with her parents and grandmother in the Rupsa Slum area in Khulna, an area famous for their fishing industry.

Cambodia: Soup, Fish And Vegetable Stew

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Photo credit: Chetra Ten

We have three dishes for lunch today at my house. My name is Samang and I’m five years old. Since it is rainy season we can easily grow green vegetables around our house.
On the menu today: Machu Kdam: A local soup with thin slices of green papaya and gourd, then mixed with fish and crab meat, seasoned with fish eggs and red chilli. Samlor Korko: An aromatic dish of pumpkin, green papaya, young chilli leaves with fermented fish, and lemongrass. Tek Kreung: Fish meat, ground peanuts, and fermented fish sauce is served with slices of cucumber, cooked papaya and young Leucaena leucocephala leaves. The meal isn’t complete without a pot of rice.

China: Corn And Potatoes

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Photo credit: Zhang Zekun

This is what I eat every day! Hi my name is Jiayi. With my brother and sisters we peel the corn brought home by our father who has just returned from the farm. World Vision helped our family with an agriculture project. I live in northwest China where families like ours make a living from farming.

India: Flat-Bread, Butter, Yogurt And Vegetables

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Photo credit: Daniel Mung

My name is Sarya and I’m 9 years old and studying in third grade in Rajasthan. I eat lunch at home around 2pm after returning from school, which is prepared by my mother. For lunch I have: two bajara roti (millet flat bread) spread with ‘ghee’ (clarified butter), and vegetables that I wash down with ‘chaach’ (a popular yogurt-based drink- also known as buttermilk).
I like eating vegetables like sangri and gwarfali along with the rotis. Most of the seasonal vegetables that we grow in our desert area are dried so that they can be preserved for a longer period.

Indonesia: Rice, Mustard Greens And A Fried Egg

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Photo credit: Agustinus Fredi

Hi, my name is Herpiani and this is my lunch at school. I have lunch with my friends. I have fried rice, sautéed mustard greens, and a fried egg. I also bring my own water bottle. I got this lunch box from World Vision so that I can bring my own meal to school. My mom makes my lunch at 6 a.m. every morning before I go to school. I am in fifth grade of elementary school in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Laos: Omelette, Sticky Rice And Vegetables From The Forest

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Photo credit: Ammala Thomisith

My name is Aiy and I’m 8 years old in primary school grade 3. Normally, I have lunch at 11:30am after school break. My mother prepares food for me every day. My special lunch that I like the most is omlette because I don’t like spicy and bitter food. Sometimes I eat alone and sometimes I eat with my sister. I don’t eat very often with my parents because they are working on the farm. Most of our food comes from nature that we collect from the wild forest. Today we ate omelette and wild vegetables mixed with chili sauce. And we always have sticky rice.

Mongolia: Bread, Butter And Tea

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Photo credit: Togtokhbayar Dorjpalam

I’m Urango. I’m 8 years old in grade 3. I live with my grandparents and my aunt in Ulaanbaatar. I go to school in the morning and then I’m done. After that I go home for the rest of the day. For lunch my grandmother makes tea with sugar, bread and butter. It is a very typical lunch.

Myanmar: Rice, Potato-Chicken Curry And Fried Watercress

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Photo credit: Khaing Min Htoo

My name is Swe and I’m 11 years old. I live with my grandmother and grandfather. My grandmother packs my lunch. My favorite is rice and potato-chicken curry. I also love fried watercress. My grandmother cooks it once in a while. We have lunch at noon and sometimes I share my lunch with my best friends in class. See more photos of Swe and her grandmother

Nepal: Eggs, Rice And Fruit

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Photo credit: Sunjuli Kunwar

“I love to eat eggs as they are very tasty and make me stronger!” says Samikshya, age 7. She loves to dance and sing and says that she is strong and can dance because she eats well.

A typical lunch that her mother Gita cooks for her is rice, green vegetables, pickles, and dal. After that is milk curd which is good for digestion and for dessert a banana and a sliced apple. Learn more about Samikshya and her family

Papua New Guinea: Fish, Coconut And Vegetables

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Photo credit: Helen Tuka

It’s 12:15pm, time for lunch! Faustina, 5, and Constantine, 8, say a prayer before every meal. Today’s lunch is sago, with fresh water fish and greens. Sago is the common staple food in the dry season. The fish are taken from small, local waterways. Coconut adds a creamy flavour to the fish and greens. Constantine finishes school at noon each day, just a five-minute walk away from home so he eats with his mom and sister every day. Faustina isn’t in school yet but waits patiently for her brother each day before starting lunch.

Philippines: Rice, Fish, And Pork

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Photo credit: Mong Jimenez

Mary Ann, 10, from Ormoc City, enjoys a sumptuous lunch of rice, kinilaw (raw fish soaked in vinegar and mixed with seasonings) and diniguan (a local stew made from pork blood and other ground meat parts).

Sri Lanka: Dhal, Beets, And Rice

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Photo credit: Niroshini Fernando

“I love to eat dhal and beetroot with rice!”
Kelum, 7, is ready to enjoy the delicious meal his mother has prepared for him. “I’m a little hungry when I come home from school and my mother’s food is tasty.” On the menu today is beetroot, green leaf salad, dhal (lentils) and fish curry with rice. “My boys love to eat lentils, so I cook it almost everyday,” says Anusha, Kelum’s mum. Learn more about Kelum’s story.

Thailand: Pork, Chicken Soup, Cucumber And Black Jelly

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Photo credit: Prakit Lelaviwat

School lunch today: Fried rice with pork, chicken soup, fresh cucumber, and black jelly (liquorice flavoured) for dessert.
Most Thai students eat lunch at school. In some rural schools where World Vision Foundation of Thailand has Lunch Projects, lunches are served for free. At school, children raise and grow the ingredients used for their lunch like mushrooms, vegetables and herbs, chicken, fish, and even pigs.

Timor-Leste: Rice, Cabbage, Noodles And Jackfruit

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Photo credit: Amelia Xavier

After changing out of her school uniform and washing her hands with soap, Tisia, 5, sits down for lunch at home with her parents, grandmother, and three siblings. After her morning in Kindergarten II, she is hungry and tired. Her mother has prepared white rice and mixed vegetables including young jackfruit and cabbage plus noodles which are stir-fried with turmeric in oil and seasoning salt and spices.

Vietnam: Buffalo Horn Cakes, Fried Eels And Vegetable Soup

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Photo credit: Le Thiem Xuan

Sam, 9, has lunch at home after school. “I like to eat rice with fried eels and vegetables soup. But I like most our traditional rice cakes. We often call them buffalo-horn cakes. We often bring some along to school and eat them during break.”

Her mother, Pia, does the cooking and then waits for the 4th grader coming back home from school. Her father, Son, made the dining table from a tree trunk.
What’s for lunch for today? Her mum prepared a nutritious lunch with home-grown products: rice, eel fried with ginger and citronella, boiled ‘ngot’ vegetables, loopah soup, fish sauce with ginger, rice cakes, some bananas, sugar-cane, and a cup of boiled water. Join Sam for lunch.

(Bonus!) India: Stew, Fish And Dal

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Photo credit: Tiatemjen Jamir

Jintu, 8, is in 4th grade. He lives in the Mising community in Dhemaji, Assam, India with is parents and younger brother, Powan, 5. The brother’s eat their morning meal before leaving for school. What’s on their plate? Pitangoying – A stew of rice, lentil and chicken, Banamongo – wood roasted fish, Singali – boiled tapioca leaves, Namsing – fermented fish paste, Apin – cooked rice, Dal – cooked lentils.

Note: As per a report, 36 percent of children in Delhi alone are malnourished. Moreover, 3000 children die every day in India due to malnourishment. The nutritional status of adults is also linked to that of children. For instance, children are more likely to be undernourished if their mothers are undernourished. A big challenge that organizations and governments face in battling malnutrition is that they are not fully aware of how it is deeply linked with other aspects of a child’s life – including education and mobility.

What World Vision is doing: World Vision works in thousands of communities across Asia. In many of those villages and cities, we’re teaching mothers and pregnant women how to cook nutritious meals from locally available ingredients. This multi-country aim helps ensure children get the right vitamins, protein, and nutrients to grow as healthy as possible.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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