Mary’s Meals adds more than 100,000 hun­gry chil­dren to feed­ing pro­gramme

The Oban Times - - ANNOUNCEMENTS -

Dal­mally-based char­ity Mary’s Meals is now reach­ing 1,361,586 of the world’s poor­est chil­dren in 17 coun­tries with life-chang­ing daily meals.

In the past six months, thanks to the con­tin­ued gen­eros­ity of sup­port­ers from around the world, the school feed­ing char­ity has wel­comed an ad­di­tional 104,308 chil­dren – in 199 new schools and ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres – to its global feed­ing pro­gramme.

The fig­ure in­cludes vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren in pris­ons in Mada­gas­car, lit­tle ones at­tend­ing nurs­ery in the deserts of north­ern Kenya, and pupils at five ad­di­tional schools in war-torn South Su­dan.

Mary’s Meals works with im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties to set up school feed­ing pro­grammes, en­abling chil­dren – who may oth­er­wise be forced to work, beg or scav­enge for food – to at­tend school and re­ceive a nu­tri­tious meal that helps them con­cen­trate on their stud­ies.

Mag­nus Mac­Far­lane-Bar­row, founder and global chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mary’s Meals, said: ‘It is won­der­ful that more than 1.3 mil­lion chil­dren are now re­ceiv­ing Mary’s Meals ev­ery day at school. All over the world we see that peo­ple are shar­ing what they have so that chil­dren might eat. I feel hum­bled each day by peo­ple’s good­ness – es­pe­cially by the tens of thou­sands of un­paid lo­cal vol­un­teers who cook and serve these meals.’

For the first time Mary’s Meals has started serv­ing meals in Mada­gas­car, where chil­dren as young as eight face mal­nu­tri­tion and ap­palling con­di­tions in over­crowded pris­ons. Mary’s Meals has part­nered with Grandir Digne­ment – an or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides ed­u­ca­tion and vo­ca­tional train­ing – to feed vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren at­tend­ing classes in four pris­ons in the Antsir­anana and An­tana­narivo re­gions.

Since March this year, the num­ber of chil­dren re­ceiv­ing Mary’s Meals in South Su­dan, Haiti and Kenya has in­creased fol­low­ing ex­pan­sions to the char­ity’s feed­ing pro­grammes.

Mag­nus added: ‘To have reached so many more chil­dren in six months is as­ton­ish­ing. And these are chil­dren liv­ing in some of the most dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions on earth, sit­u­a­tions that might even seem hope­less.

‘But we know from ex­pe­ri­ence that these meals do not only meet the im­me­di­ate need of the hun­gry child, they also en­able them to grow up, well-nour­ished and well-ed­u­cated, to be­come the young men and women who will lift their com­mu­ni­ties out of poverty one day. Our vi­sion, that ev­ery child in this world re­ceives at least one good meal ev­ery day in their place of ed­u­ca­tion, burns more brightly than ever.’

Mary’s Meals be­gan feed­ing just 200 chil­dren in Malawi in 2002. To­day, the char­ity pro­vides life-chang­ing meals to more than 1.3 mil­lion chil­dren in Africa, Asia, Latin Amer­ica, East­ern Europe, and the Caribbean.

Re­search shows that in schools where chil­dren re­ceive Mary’s Meals, en­rol­ment in­creases, at­ten­dance im­proves, drop-out rates fall, and chil­dren are hap­pier, health­ier and do bet­ter in class.

To find out more or to do­nate, please visit www.marys­meals.org.uk.

How it works:

Mary’s Meals is a sim­ple idea that works. The char­ity pro­vides one daily meal in a place of learn­ing in or­der to at­tract chron­i­cally poor chil­dren into the class­room, where they re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion that can, in the fu­ture, be their lad­der out of poverty.

The Mary’s Meals cam­paign was born in 2002 when Mag­nus Mac­Far­lane-Bar­row vis­ited Malawi dur­ing a famine and met a mother dy­ing from AIDS. When Mag­nus asked her el­dest son, Ed­ward, what his dreams were in life, he replied sim­ply: ‘I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.’

Mary’s Meals feeds 1,361,586 chil­dren ev­ery school day, across five con­ti­nents, in 17 coun­tries: Malawi, Liberia, Zam­bia, Haiti, Kenya, In­dia, South Su­dan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Benin, Le­banon, Syria, Myan­mar, Thai­land, Ecuador, Mada­gas­car and Ro­ma­nia.

In Ro­ma­nia, Mary’s Meals works with the Rhema Foun­da­tion to serve nu­tri­tious meals to young adults in a place of ed­u­ca­tion and res­i­den­tial care. The Rhema Foun­da­tion pro­vides all-round care for HIV-pos­i­tive young peo­ple who were aban­doned in hospi­tal in Bucharest in the 1990s.

In South Su­dan, where years of vi­o­lent con­flict has caused a food cri­sis af­fect­ing more than six mil­lion peo­ple, Mary’s Meals works closely with its lo­cal part­ner, the Dio­cese of Rum­bek, to de­liver life-sav­ing school meals to des­per­ately hun­gry chil­dren.

In Ker­ala, Mary’s Meals is work­ing with its long-stand­ing part­ner in In­dia to de­liver aid to peo­ple af­fected by the re­cent, dev­as­tat­ing floods. Mary’s Meals launched the Ker­ala Floods Emer­gency Ap­peal fol­low­ing news of the dis­as­ter and, as part of an ini­tial re­sponse, is pro­vid­ing es­sen­tial food sup­plies to 13,000 of the worst af­fected fam­i­lies.

Ear­lier this year, Mary’s Meals be­gan feed­ing a fur­ther 6,019 chil­dren at 27 schools in Haiti, through a new part­ner­ship with Sum­mits Ed­u­ca­tion. The char­ity has also grown its feed­ing pro­gramme in Kenya and is now serv­ing nu­tri­tious daily meals to more than 3,500 ad­di­tional preschool chil­dren at 30 nurs­eries in the drought-prone Turkana re­gion of the coun­try.

The av­er­age global cost to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year is just £13.90.

In­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied re­search from Malawi, Liberia and Zam­bia shows that in schools where chil­dren re­ceive Mary’s Meals, hunger is re­duced, en­rol­ment in­creases, at­ten­dance im­proves, drop-out rates fall, ab­sences dwin­dle, con­cen­tra­tion in lessons is height­ened, at­tain­ment lev­els in­crease, par­ents are less anx­ious, and chil­dren are hap­pier.

Mary’s Meals is com­mit­ted to spend­ing at least 93 per cent of do­na­tions di­rectly on its char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties. This is only pos­si­ble be­cause much of the char­ity’s work is done by an army of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers – in­clud­ing more than 80,000 in Malawi alone.

Please visit www.marys­meals.org.uk to find out more about the work of Mary’s Meals.

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