"Countless children in Nepal are going to bed with empty stomachs. To see that smile on a child’s face and knowing they will not go to bed hungry is why I do this work."
Neera Sharma works for the World Food Programme (WFP) in her home country of Nepal and manages the school-feeding programme. Throughout her entire career, Neera has been motivated to help children through a number of crises, from the 2015 earthquake to the COVID-19 pandemic, and through the upcoming flood season. “The satisfaction of working as a humanitarian is beyond words,” she says.
Neera has long wanted to build a career out of helping children. For a number of years, she worked for international organizations helping meet the needs of school children in Nepal in regular and emergency settings. Her current work with WFP serves 1,500 schools in nine food-insecure districts providing meals to 173,000 children. With lockdowns and school closures due to COVID-19, many children in Nepal are not getting meals they would normally receive in school.
That’s why Neera and her team are providing take-home rations for these children. She says: “I do it because I am serving children and making a difference… Countless children in Nepal are going to bed with empty stomachs. To see that smile on a child’s face and knowing they will not go to bed hungry is why I do this work.”
The families WFP works with often live in remote areas, which are typically the most food-insecure parts of Nepal. Even before COVID-19, it could take up to eight hours to collect monthly rations and distribute the meals for children daily. Neera says: “It is difficult, of course... With this work, you have to remain flexible and adaptable to change to remain focused.”
With the lockdown in Nepal lifted and schools set to reopen in mid-August, Neera and her team are working with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and other partners to offer guidance on the best way to keep students safe and healthy in the process.