Game, set, match for children fed by Mary’s Meals
Hannah and Patrick from Malawi win tennis gold at the Special Olympic World Games
A boy and girl who received Mary’s Meals at school in Malawi have won the gold medal in mixed doubles tennis at the Special Olympic World Games.
Hannah Winesi and Patrick Sichamba, who both have additional needs, are celebrating after lifting the coveted award in a match against a team from Bulgaria.
And there was further joy for Patrick who went on to win a second gold medal, finishing top of the podium in the singles tournament to cap off a memorable trip to Berlin.
In Malawi, where a third of all primary school-age children eat Mary’s Meals, we serve a maize and soya porridge, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. This is known locally as ‘likuni phala’.
Patrick says: “I was able to train relentlessly because the phala I received every day from Mary’s Meals gave me energy.
“My dad passed away when I was really little. But I think my mum is pretty proud of me, and so is my teacher. I played tennis with him for the first time.
“Tennis has changed my life. Without tennis, I would never have known that I could do anything really well. And I probably never would have gotten on an airplane in my life!”
Mary’s Meals began by feeding just 200 children in Malawi in 2002. We now reach more than 2.4 million children every school day in 18 of the world’s poorest countries.
Karen Gray, Director of Communications at Mary’s Meals, says: “Our life-changing meals attract desperately hungry children into the classroom where they can gain an education and – in the case of Hannah and Patrick – discover an Olympic talent for tennis!
“We are only able to feed 2.4 million little ones every school day because of the kindness of people across the UK who support our work.
“On behalf of the Mary’s Meals family, I would like to say a huge congratulations to these inspirational young people!”
The Special Olympic World Games, currently taking place in Berlin, is the world's largest inclusive sports event, with around 7,000 athletes from 190 countries competing in 26 sports.
Enid Mauluka, National Director Special Olympics Malawi, says: “For Patrick, if he can't be in the classroom, then he can't be on the playing field. Children are not motivated in sports or even in school unless there is a meal, because if you're hungry you have no energy to participate. So, for that reason the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme has made a big difference.”