In Turkana, most people make their living from sheep and goats, but seven-year-old Longoria has other plans…

Many seven-year-old boys dream of being footballers or policemen when they grow up. Little Longoria has his heart set on becoming a politician and making sure his community has enough to eat.   
 
“I come to school because I want to learn and become a local councillor,” he says. “I will make sure all the people in this area are getting food.” 
 
Like most families in the open plains of Turkana in Kenya, Longoria’s parents are pastoralists, who scrape together a living from herding sheep and goats. It is a dry and unforgiving landscape. Consecutive years of poor rainfall have caused crops to fail and animals to die, pushing many families to crisis point.  
 
Longoria says: “We used to have many sheep and goats, but there are only a small number of animals left after the drought.” 
 
After lessons, Longoria helps to look after the goats. “We move around to find water,” he says. “Sometimes I have to run to keep up with the goats. When it’s time to go back, I drive them home.  
 
“Sometimes I click my tongue and they hear and they move. Sometimes, I shout ‘Ekoe’ [which means ‘hey you’]. When I am not with the herd, I go to fetch water or firewood.”

There is very little food at home. Some days, when he’s out with the goats, Longoria is so hungry that he eats the sap from trees to keep himself going.  
 
In the face of widespread food and water shortages, Mary’s Meals is bringing hope to hard pushed communities. When he talks about the food he enjoys each day at Kangole pre-school, Longoria’s face lights up.  
 
“I love Mary’s Meals,” he says with a big smile. “The food is helping me come to school. The uji (porridge) is best. When I eat it, I feel full.” 
 
“I don’t want to go out herding the goats,” he adds. “I am happy to be at school. I like writing.” 
 
Some children in this community drop out of school to herd animals full time, but Longoria is determined to make the most of his education and, thanks to the guarantee of a nutritious daily meal, his studies are off to a great start.