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The Difference YOU Have Made! 4 Mary’s Meals Success Stories

The Difference YOU Have Made!  4 Mary’s Meals Success Stories

For the past few months, our Good for Others campaign has been sponsoring Mary’s Meals. Thanks to their efforts, families no longer have to choose between keeping their kids home to work or sending them to school. Mary’s Meals’ school feeding programs throughout the globe help lift this burden from the very poor in impoverished communities by ensuring that educational and nutritional needs are both met through the help of volunteers from the children’s own community!

For one more month, we decided to extend our support and give you in return four success stories of real individuals who have benefited from the 10% of your sales! Hear from the individuals themselves what a difference YOU have made - in their own words!

1) Janet (45 years old)

In Malawi, Janet is a mother to four boys, two of whom attend Mulanje Lea School. She does piecework as her main income - and when there is no work to be found, she sells wood.

“I was worried when schools closed [COVID]. To me, it meant children were no longer going to be fed. It has brought the burden of having to look for extra food now. Even piecework is no longer easy to come by. If you find one [job], you get paid less than before. Many people we were relying on to give us piecework have been laid off and they cannot do anything to help us.”

It is in situations like this that Mary’s Meals steps in and starts making a difference with their school programs.  Janet was so excited to receive the extra aid from Mary’s Meals.  

“When I heard Mary’s Meals was going to be distributing food for us to be cooking at home, I was so happy.  From the time I had food, my children were energetic once again.” 

As a result of Mary’s Meals’ efforts, Janet’s children have the freedom to decide when they can study and when they can play.  “It is during the afternoon that they check our battery-operated lanterns to see if they have power, so they can use it for studying during the night.  If I have money, I send them to get more batteries.  I am glad they help each other out, to solve maths or read.  I just ensure they do not lose focus for it is their future.  Feeding at home is giving them hope to still stay focused and remain energetic.”  

2) Demoz (13 years old)

Orphaned by tragedy; Demoz’s father was a soldier and died in conflict. Six years ago, his mother died too. He now lives alone in Ethiopia with his elderly grandmother.

While he was thankful there was a family member to take him in, his grandmother has no means of income and Demoz relied completely on the kindness of community members to provide his clothes, shoes and what little food they could spare. Understandably, these challenges left Demoz painfully shy and perhaps most heart-breaking; lonely.

Principal Jabhier explains that when Demoz came to school, “he was feeling lonely most of the time. When there were other children playing, he would sit alone.”  Yet it was also Principal Jabhier who offered some light into what could otherwise be a desperately sad story - a plan they have in place at Maymasanu Primary School to identify those children who seem isolated or discriminated against. 

The teachers are not alone in their mission to help children integrate more with their classmates. They have a powerful tool in the form of school meals. By bringing children together at mealtimes, they are encouraging them to interact with one another socially and it is making a big difference for children like Demoz.

“I am very happy when I get here!” he told Mary’s Meals, “I have two friends at school, they are in my class and I like to play football with them. If we are eating our meals properly, we can attend school on time and then we are energetic and play with our Friends.”

The meals Demoz receives in school are helping to ease his loneliness and slowly build up his confidence too. Principal Jabhier explains that the benefits don’t stop there. He adds:

“The first impact of the programme is attending school on time. Before, more than half of the pupils were not attending or were late. The second is that no students drop out. [And] the third impact is that before, so many children were sick because of hunger. They had stomach pains for example. The food is very nutritious – there are homegrown crops and cereals – it is very helpful to the children. No children are sick now.”

This support for the programme is echoed by the whole community. And as long as Demoz is at school, Mary’s Meals will be there too.

3) Mulu

Before conflict and unrest gripped the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Mulu lived with his mother, father and four younger brothers and sisters in a small village. He attended school and his parents were farmers with around 200 goats and 80 cattle, so he spent much of his time tending to the animals.

Mulu is now living alone in a temporary camp for displaced people near the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle and recently told his story to Mary’s Meals’ trusted partners:

“I, together with my fellow shepherds, was staying in the mountains and bushes with our herd of goats. As we came closer to the houses in our village, we could hear heavy gunfire and bombs dropping. I was alone, separated from my father among the thousands of desperate people fleeing the war. One of my neighbors informed me that the armed group was looking for my father and that he and some others had to hide in the mountains and caves and join the Tigrayan armed forces.”

With his family nowhere to be found, Mulu followed his fellow villagers and set off on foot on the treacherous journey from his village to Mekelle in search of safety. Mulu told Mary’s Meals how difficult this journey was, as he missed his family terribly and was struggling to process what had happened to him.

“Now, life is harsh. In the past, there was peace, I was living with my parents and my brothers and sisters. Now, it is very difficult to comprehend, understand or express the situation I am in.”

Now, Mulu is one of many displaced Tigrayan children who is attending lessons in the IDP camp in Mekelle. Although he doesn’t have his family, he has many friends, and they study and help each other with homework together.

“I am learning English and Civics. I have many friends. And, we have good relationships. I wish to see peace residing in all places. That is what I want and that is what I think about. Peace is very important for me to go back to my home village and join my family. My hope is for peace.”

Thanks to Mary’s Meals, this poor boy is able to experience a semblance of peace in his life, as his food and educational needs are provided for.

4) Samson (13 years old)

Samson lives with his big sister on the remote island of Chizumulu. It’s separated from the mainland - Malawi - by 50 miles of water and connected by a ferry that puts in just once a week. Yet, Samson, who finished top of the class last term, has dreams that reach far beyond the shores of tiny Chizumulu.

“I want to be the President of Malawi. I want to assist the country when I grow up, so that everyone has food and education.”

School for Samson is Chiteko Primary School - the largest primary school on Chizumulu - where enrollment has been on the rise since Mary’s Meals started feeding there, eight years ago. The children used to drift off during the day because they didn’t have the energy to continue class or to find food. Now, children like Samson receive daily school meals and stay to learn.

His belief in the power of education is grounded through the efforts of Mary’s Meals and in his own enjoyment of going to school, demonstrated by his long list of favorite subjects.

“I like English, maths, and science and technology. I gain knowledge from coming to school and I am also able to learn more on my own. I am happy when I am learning.”

Chatting confidently in English after lunch, he asid “I don’t feel hungry when I’m in class and I have eaten. Porridge helps me to be healthy. It has the nutrients I need so I have energy to work well.”

A great smile with a serious message to share - what else would you expect from a future president!

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