Mary’s Meals has rolled out its school feeding programme to Zambia, one of the world’s poorest countries.
We are now providing 20,000 children with a daily meal every day they attend school in the poverty-stricken African country.
Located in south-central Africa, the vast majority of the population in Zambia live on around a £1 a day and Government figures show that over a million children go to school hungry.
In the Chipata district, Mary’s Meals is working with 25 primary schools where children are facing severe barriers to their education.
Each child will be given a daily serving of likuni phala — a vitamin-enriched maize porridge — served in plastic mugs.
Many of the children in this district, which borders Malawi, experience chronic hunger and would normally miss school to work or search for food on the streets.
Girls face particular obstacles in attending school in Zambia. They are expected to carry out domestic chores or to marry young, so they are no longer a financial burden on their families.
Providing a good meal draws children into the classroom where they can receive an education that could one day give them a brighter future.
Panji Kajani, Mary’s Meals country representative for Zambia, said: “There is a great urgency to tackle poverty in Zambia which is why we’ve launched this school feeding programme now.
“Low harvests mean many children have limited access to food and this is infringing on their right to receive an education.
“The introduction of Mary’s Meals here will help reduce this burden. Hunger no longer needs to be an obstacle to receiving an education.”
The start of the school feeding programme in Zambia has also been welcomed by the local community.
“This programme will encourage more children to come to school ─ children who would otherwise be at home because of hunger,” said Joyce Mbewe, who chairs a School Health & Nutrition Committee at Mnoro, one of the 25 schools to receive Mary’s Meals in Zambia.
“The community is so thankful that our children will be able to come to school and learn and also receive food which will improve their nutritional status.”
For 14-year-old Saidee, the arrival of Mary’s Meals has been transformative.
The talented runner, who dreams of competing in the Olympics one day, said: “When I’m hungry I feel so sick.
“Sometimes my eyes get really blurry and I can’t see anything. The porridge is helping me come to school because I don’t need to work to get my food. It’s also helping me with my running because I have more energy.”