Almirante never ate lunch during the school day. The small and shy first-grader spent long hours in the classroom with an empty stomach. The curly letters and meandering numbers on the blackboard were strange and bewildering to him.
Like most children in rural Mozambique, Almirante comes from a poor family. Meals at home rarely comprised more than one dish of xima, a traditional maize flour porridge, per day. Only on special occasions would the xima be served with a cassava leaf or cabbage stew.
Life became even more difficult for Almirante when his father passed away and left his mother alone to raise two young boys. Almirante’s older brother subsequently dropped out of school, and his mother asked another family to care for him.