Profile: A virtuous cycle
Rotary Club of Montgomery Capital, Ala.
A single moment on a 2004 motorcycle journey through Central America changed Ron Hicks’ life and the lives of hundreds of hungry children in Honduras.
“I saw this little girl begging,” recalls the retired geologist. Hicks gave her some spare change and continued his trip, but once he returned home to Montgomery, Ala., his thoughts kept returning to the encounter.
A few months later Hicks returned to Honduras, thinking he would find the nine-year-old girl named Anabel and pay to place her in an orphanage.
It turned out, however, that she had nine brothers and sisters, parents, a tiny home – and very little to eat.
Hicks, a member of the Montgomery Capital Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow, visited the girl’s school and learned that many students often skipped school to scavenge for food. That’s when Lunches for Learning, which provides a free daily lunch for Honduran schoolchildren, was born. “When hunger and education compete, hunger always wins,” explains Hicks.
The program serves more than 1,700 students at 29 rural schools, and that single daily meal has been phenomenally successful at keeping kids in school. Enrollment at Anabel’s school grew from 84 to 130 within a year. “Kids were clinically malnourished and would come to school and sleep. They couldn’t concentrate,” says Hicks. “Within a year, they’re up and at it and thriving.”
– Anne Stein
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