Siblings Jainab and Jubaida stand together smiling

Providing light in the darkness

Our Double The Love appeal is back, meaning that donations made to Mary’s Meals from now until 22 January will be doubled by a group of generous donors, up to £1 million.

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I’m very excited to say that our Double The Love appeal is back, meaning that donations made to Mary’s Meals from now until 22 January will be doubled by a group of generous donors, up to £1 million. Read on to find out what an incredible difference this will make to hungry children around the world. 

While I was in Delhi, India, recently, I visited an area called Bhalswa Dairy. This is a slum area, the landscape of which is entirely dominated by an enormous rubbish heap, which rises up above the buildings and blocks out the sky. One third of Delhi’s discarded debris ends up here. Under the heat of the Indian sun, the stench is overwhelming. Just beyond the rubbish dump stands a school and in that school, with a view of the trash from their classroom windows, two girls are dancing. 

A girl looks over a wall to a large rubbish dump

Jubaida and Jainab are nine and they are identical twins. Their father drives a rickshaw and their mother works as a rag picker. Ignoring the heat, the smell and the danger, the girls’ mother picks her way through the mountain of garbage, looking for things that she can sell. When the girls finish school, they join her in sorting the rubbish, their hands deep in dangerous trash. The classrooms of their school look out on the garbage pile; the smell of the dump permeates their lessons. This is not a childhood that any of us would recognise. 

But in the deepest darkness, there is a small and shining light. For the children of Bhalswa, that light is provided by Gyan Saravar School, where Mary’s Meals are served every day. Jubaida and Jainab come to school to learn, to eat and, surprisingly, to dance. 

Each day after lessons, the school bell rings and children flock to steaming pots of rice and curry, often the only meal they have eaten in the day. Jubaida, who is a serious girl, tells me the food helps her to concentrate. A glimmer appears in her eye as she tells me it also gives her energy to dance. 

Girls dancing in class

After lunch, the desks are cleared away and the twins join a dance lesson. As they move their bodies in time with the music, I see Jubaida finally smiling. For this hour, she can simply be a child, having fun. 

She has one more smile for us today. When I ask her about her dreams for the future she answers with a huge grin: “I want to be a doctor.” 

When we think back over the past year, 2023 might have seemed to contain more darkness than light. The impacts of rising costs, climate change and conflict have brought fear and uncertainty to many children. But as we approach Christmas, it is important to keep on looking for that small and shining light which exists in the darkness. Your support for Mary’s Meals provides that light. 

Just £19.15 can feed a child like Jubaida every day for a whole school year. And because your gift is matched at this time, that same donation could feed Jainab too. 

Thank you for your kindness. The Mary’s Meals family wishes you a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Jessica Faulkner

Head of Media and Content

Give until 22 January 2024 and your donation
 will be doubled by a group of generous supporters, up to £1 million.