A volunteer cook serves food to children in a classroom

A parent’s gift

Eliane volunteers as a cook at her daughter’s school in Madagascar, bringing hope for a brighter future for the wider community

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Eliane has become a valuable member of a team of parents that helps to cook lunches for all the students in the newly built Mary’s Meals canteen at her daughter’s school, Ambohimiarina Primary in Madagascar.

Mary’s Meals’ school feeding programmes are owned and run by the communities who benefit from them and selfless volunteers like Eliane make our work possible, feeding children and growing their community for the better.

The meals she is helping to prepare have been life-changing, and not just for her five-year-old daughter Sandratra and her classmates.

Eliane was previously only able to work limited hours and earn just $1 a day, because she had to return home at lunchtime to give her daughter something to eat. With such little income, she found it difficult to provide enough nutritious food to feed her small family. This vicious circle seemed impossible to escape.

Then, the introduction of the school feeding programme changed everything for this working mother. She says: “Now I can go to work every day. Since my child has meals here at school, I no longer have to go home at midday for lunch. So, I can increase my work hours and earn more money.”

Eliane has doubled her income thanks to the provision of a daily school meal, and she is keen to invest something of herself back into the development of future generations too.

Volunteer cook Eliane stands outside of her school

Eliane is now able to take a day off work each month to volunteer with Mary’s Meals, rotating the schedule with the other parents. She says: “I love participating in the school canteen. It is a delight to prepare meals for the children. It is not difficult since I do the same at home. And when I get home in the evening, I can now prepare a good dinner for my family, since I have earned a lot of money.”

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and has some of the highest rates of stunted growth and wasting – when a child’s weight is too low for their height in children worldwide. Widespread poverty is the main cause of undernutrition and, with the school feeding programme, which is operated in partnership with Feedback Madagascar, both nutrition and education can be addressed simultaneously.

The school feeding programme is changing the story for families like Eliane’s and for the community as a whole. Ambohimiarina Primary is the only school in the village, in the southern high plateau of Madagascar. Local parents were so motivated by the introduction of school meals that enrolment improved by 25%.

Children of Ambohimiarina School, Madagascar, enjoying Mary's Meals

Eliane says: “I was sad before when I knew that other schools in this area had the programme and not our school.

‘‘I am happy that Ambohimiarina School is now benefitting from Mary’s Meals too. This school canteen is very helpful. Not only for the children but for us parents too.”

You too can help us provide food for the next child waiting for Mary’s Meals and drive change in the communities we serve. By helping just one parent, like Eliane, you can spark action that can have a ripple effect in the community and ultimately transform the lives of children and their families.

By supporting our work, you can change lives at Ambohimiarina Primary School and beyond, and help us to support communities to build a better future.

Change lives by joining the Mary’s Meals community today.