Children queueing for Mary's Meals food in Tigray

New hope for children in Tigray, Ethiopia, after three years without school

Following two years of civil war and three years of disruption, Mary’s Meals has reintroduced feeding for around 10,000 children

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Mary’s Meals has taken the first steps in reinstating our much-needed programme in Tigray, Ethiopia, following two years of brutal civil war and three years of disruption to education across the region.

Working with long-standing local partner, Daughters of Charity Tigray, we have reintroduced feeding for around 10,000 children in 14 schools. In the short term, the menu is dictated by facilities and supplies and children are receiving high energy biscuits and hot tea. Over the next few months, the programme and menu will be expanded as cooking facilities that were destroyed or looted in the fighting are replaced.

The children being served have all missed out on years of learning – some may never even have set foot in a classroom – since schools in the region closed in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Later that year, just as places of education were preparing to reopen, the war began. Two years of relentless fighting left millions of people displaced, traumatised and in need of humanitarian assistance.

Before Covid and conflict closed the schools, we were reaching more than 24,000 children with nutritious, hot daily meals every school day through its programme, coordinated by Daughters of Charity with support from community volunteers.

When war broke out and school buildings were being used as shelters for people displaced by the conflict, Mary’s Meals and Daughters of Charity continued to work closely under extremely challenging conditions to provide emergency food aid and other essential items to thousands of people seeking refuge in the capital city of Mekelle.

As many thousands of people return to their villages to begin rebuilding their lives, Mary’s Meals is supporting Daughters of Charity to carry out community food distributions, providing essential staples to those families in the greatest need.

Alex Keay, Director of Programme Affiliates and Partners at Mary’s Meals International, said: “We’re so thankful to our colleagues at Daughters of Charity whose hard work in the most difficult circumstances has allowed us to keep reaching people in urgent need in Tigray. During the darkest days, when it wasn’t possible to deliver our normal school feeding programme, emergency meals and community food distributions offered people essential sustenance and, above all, hope.

“Now, with schools reopening and children turning up to learn after three years without classes, it’s important that we work together to reinstate school feeding at the earliest opportunity. It gives us hope, too, being able to take these first steps and keep our promise to the children – that they will eat when they attend school.”

Children sitting in the ground in a crowd and eating in Tigray, Ethiopia

Our local partner is currently sourcing the essential supplies needed to reinstate cooking facilities and restart the school feeding programme in full – serving a hot, nutritious meal to children every day they attend school. For now, seeing children safely back in class and being able to offer them some daily sustenance while they learn is a welcome change.

Gebrisha Gebray, Deputy Social and Development Coordinator for Daughters of Charity, said: “The parents and teachers have expressed their happiness and gratefulness for Daughters of Charity and Mary’s Meals and the timely solution to the hunger their children are facing amidst the halting food aid. Parents are expressing their gratitude for the feeding programme which has brought hope for their children to attend classes and start achieving after years of closed schools.”

You can learn more about work in Ethiopia and how you can support us here.

Child in Zambia with Marys Meals

It costs just £19.15 to feed a child with Mary's Meals for a whole school year.