Roberto is co-founder and Executive Director of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative. Born and raised in Chokwe, Mozambique, Roberto has deep knowledge of the challenges facing Mozambican communities and is a true visionary leader dedicated to finding pathways to create better opportunities. Prior to co-founding the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative in May 2016, Roberto worked for over 12 years for various international development organizations, including Oxfam, GOAL, and Samaritan's Purse. He earned his degree in Business in 2011 from the Economics and Management College of Mozambique, where he was also a professor from 2012 to 2019, teaching night classes in finance. Roberto excels at creating strong teams and developing the strategy for implementing programs in collaboration with local communities. Roberto was selected as a fellow for the inaugural international Moonshot House Incubator program in Mozambique, run by the Kravis Lab for Social Impact at Claremont McKenna College Mozambique in August 2018. Roberto aspires to grow the organization to become a major player in long-term strategies to strengthen food security and reduce poverty.
Who We Are
Talvina is co-founder of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative and has been Program Supervisor of the School Lunch Program since its founding in 2016. She manages every aspect of the school lunch program, including training and overseeing the cooks, procuring and delivering nutritious foods to the schools, and ensuring quality control. Talvina's deep empathy for children (all the students know her as "Mother Vina") also makes her the primary point of contact for anything that happens with the primary school students or their families. Talvina has close connections in each of the villages where we work, and is regularly involved in community events. She is a trusted partner with the local leadership and is known for her rigor and dedication. A local of Chokwe, Mozambique, Talvina grew up facing similar conditions as the children served by the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative. She is a proud mother of two girls and believes that all Mozambican children have the right to good nutrition and education. Previously, Talvina worked for multiple international organizations, and has always been passionate about serving her local community.
Cara is co-founder of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative and serves as the Director of Development and Innovation. She first started working in Mozambique in 2013 for Samaritan's Purse, where her fluency in Portuguese (the national language of Mozambique) allowed her work directly in rural communities and better understand the challenges they faced. It was then that she met her colleagues Talvina and Roberto and formed strong friendships and a commitment to improving the lives of Mozambicans. Since then, she has also worked on a project with women entrepreneurs in Mozambique for Oxford Policy Management, multiple agricultural and education projects for the World Bank in Mozambique, and as a Program Officer for Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Cara is passionate about creating opportunity for all children and communities to grow and thrive, leveraging data and evidence while also connecting with people to better understand what is needed. She has a background in economics and social entrepreneurship and was a New World Social Enterprise Fellow while a Masters Student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where she also won the Harvard President's Innovation Challenge People's Choice Award for her work with the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative. Cara sees herself as a bridge that can help develop partnerships to expand the mission of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative and make sure that no child misses school over hunger.
Jaime is the chief agronomist of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative, leading the agricultural extension and market facilitation with the farmer groups in our supply chain. Born and raised in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jaime is fluent in Xangana, Portuguese and English, and has deep knowledge of Mozambique's rural communities and a passion for smallholder farming. He has a degree in agricultural engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Gaza and over four years of experience prior to joining the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative team. Jaime continues to invest in his own knowledge by attending regular workshops and has developed a wealth of technical knowledge and connections in the agricultural space that ensures we are able to support farmers with the most up-to-date technologies. Jaime is deeply committed to the farmers he works with, willing to go the extra mile to help them succeed. He is patient but determined, bringing innovative solutions to agricultural challenges and adapting them to the particular context of each farmer group he works with. In particular, he is a champion for gender equality and uses his role to empower women farmers in the community. He leads by example, showing solidarity with the farmers. Under his guidance, farmers have more than tripled their yields and have grown to become the chief suppliers for the school lunch program Through his role, Jaime aspires to transform the agricultural production of smallholder farmers in Mozambique and create a sustainable path out of poverty.
Tucha is the Lead Mentor for the Girls Secondary School clubs as part of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative's Secondary School Support Program. Born and raised in Chokwe, Mozambique, Tucha excels at connecting with adolescent girls and delivering the mentorship curriculum in an engaging and thoughtful way. She is responsible for conducting the after-school club meetings, addressing questions and challenges the girls are facing, carrying out community sensitization meetings, and overseeing the "mentor mothers", who serve as the first-line of contact in each village. Tucha's work has been fundamental to re-enrolling out-of-school girls, increasing community awareness about the importance of girls' education, building the girls' confidence and skills, and identifying opportunities to strengthen the program to increase its effectiveness. Tucha has a background in Public Health and Social Activism, and has been on the team since 2022.
Dino is the Lead Mentor for the Boys Secondary School clubs as part of the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative's Secondary School Support Program. Born and raised in Chokwe, Mozambique, Dino brings a wealth of skills as a key role model for the adolescent boys, an excellent facilitator of the boys club meetings, as well as leading the monitoring and data collection efforts for the Secondary School Support Program. Dino exemplifies the values of the team by demonstrating that gender equality is a boys' issue as well, and that developing confidence, interpersonal, and communication skills are essential for boys to thrive. Dino's work is critical for the effective data collection efforts that enable the team to ensure students make the transition from primary to secondary school, and stay in secondary school all the way until the 12th grade. Dino has a background in Business, human rights activism, and information systems, and has been on the team since 2022.
Ahuti joined the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative in 2020 as Digital Marketing and Fundraising Partner. Born and raised in Mozambique, with a Bachelor's in Information Sciences from South Africa, she brings the skills and heart necessary for this initiative. Experienced in the field of Digital Marketing and Campaigns, she has decided to give back by helping build Mozambique School Lunch Initiative s global digital presence. Previously, Ahuti has also helped raise funds for school materials for the Escola Primaria da Costa de Sol in Maputo, as well as the Malerato Centre of Hope in South Africa. In her early childhood years, Ahuti often visited Chokwe and always knew she wanted to help this community. She believes that investing in nutrition can foster learning enthusiasm, and encourage overall physical and mental health development among children in rural Mozambique. A quote she lives by is "Don't just give to get. Give to inspire others to give." - Simon Sinek.
Jéssica is the team's Adolescent Mentorship and Development Partner, having joined the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative's efforts initially as a local fundraising and marketing associate in 2021. Born and raised in Maputo, Mozambique, she is passionate about empowering girls and the importance of positive role models and mentors for young women to succeed. She has successfully initiated collaborations with private sector partners, including Higest (a chicken inputs company), which was instrumental for the launch of the community egg program. With her experience working for Girl MOVE Academy, Jéssica also shares best practices for the Secondary School Support Program's mentorship component, and has been instrumental in refining the curriculum to focus on increasing girls' aspirations and goal-setting.
Roberto, Talvina and Cara met in 2013 while all working for Samaritan's Purse in Chokwe, Mozambique. They became close colleagues and friends while working on various projects and discussing the unaddressed needs that prevented programs from having greater impact. In 2015/2016, the El-Niño-exacerbated drought caused many children to drop out of school due to severe hunger. It was the tipping point that moved the group to action, launching a pilot project in four schools (over 600 students) in the hardest hit villages in Chokwe District. Within a month, the program saw huge positive impacts, with children flooding back to school and re-gaining their strength with the hearty school meals offered every day. For most students, the school lunch is the first and main meal of the day. For this reason, the recipes focus on protein and nutrient rich foods like beans, chicken, peanuts, and vegetables. Teachers reported that students were attending school regularly, paying attention better in class, and showing up earlier. Hungry students cannot learn. And the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative was tackling this problem head on.
When the drought subsided in March 2017, the team was holding meetings with the local communities and they expressed their desire to collaborate further. Most parents in the rural villages are farmers, and they wanted to help grow the food used in the school lunches. This idea launched the "Seed Support" pilot, where the Mozambique School Lunch Initiative offered agricultural investment to farmer groups at each school to grow the crops for the school lunch program. Since then, this has become a key part of our strategy for sustainability and for addressing the underlying challenges of food security in rural areas. Farmers are now increasing their agricultural production and ability to support the school lunch program. Children at school are eating fresh, locally produced food at school and are going home to more food secure families.
The Mozambique School Lunch Initiative continues to iterate around the best ways to deliver home-grown school lunches and improve child nutrition in Mozambique. In everything we do, our north star is the Mozambican child and the reason we all got started in the first place: creating better opportunities for children to grow and learn. No child should miss school over hunger.
Moving forward, we are completely committed to continuing to feed the children at these schools, regardless of the challenges that may come our way. Feeding one child in Chokwe a healthy lunch every school day still only costs $5.50 USD per month, or $0.27 per meal. We ask for your support to ensure that this continues to happen, and look to build on what we're already doing.
100 percent of all donations will directly fund school lunches. Our costs are made up of food, transport, and the administrative costs for our amazing Mozambican team.
We thank you in advance for your support. Please check back often for updates and pictures from Chokwe.