Message from Magnus: Crisis in Malawi

Today in Malawi another awful food crisis is unfolding. Millions are in need of help.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Mary's Meals founder and CEO

Back to all stories | Posted on 27 May 2016 in Update from Magnus

Almost fourteen years ago, a little group of hungry orphan children stood in a line, waiting for porridge cooked and served by big-hearted volunteers from their community. Among them was Veronica.

At that time, Malawi was gripped by a devastating food crisis – crops had failed and stomachs were empty. Many classrooms were too. I remember these children well; the very first to receive Mary’s Meals, their futures fuelled by the promise of a good meal each day at school.
Today, Veronica is studying business and education at university. She is also one of the shining stars of Generation Hope, the remarkable new documentary about our work. At prestigious film festivals in places such as Cannes and California, and at hundreds of screenings organised by Mary’s Meals supporters, this young lady will give people reason to be hopeful of a better future in Malawi. Veronica and the other young people who feature in the film are the ones who can lead the change – enabling their communities and nations, in time, to escape chronic poverty and end their reliance on aid.

Without Mary’s Meals, they would almost certainly be part of a lost generation – unable to escape the cycle of poverty which has trapped so many generations before them. The hopeful young people in this film, and thousands like them all over the world, are living proof that this simple thing we do really does work. 

Right now, in Malawi, another awful food crisis is unfolding. A horrible combination of floods and drought has devastated crops. In April, the country’s president declared a national state of emergency. Millions are in need of help. Families are being forced to eat meals of leaves and what little else they can find. Some people have died after eating poisonous wild plants in their frantic search for nourishment.

For many children, Mary’s Meals is their only meal of the day. Ndilibe, 13, is one of them. He tells us: “It’s become normal to go one or two days without having any food at home. I was often missing school because I was too hungry to attend and needed to go looking for food. You worry where the next meal is going to come from. But my next meal will be the porridge. It will be from you, Mary’s Meals, where I will next get to eat.”

The head teacher at Ndilibe’s school, Mr Sandram, sees the daily struggle families are facing. He says: “The next few months are going to be extremely tough for everyone. Without Mary’s Meals here we would probably have been forced to close the school. Hunger is like a war. So, bless Mary’s Meals for giving us some strength – like armour – to battle this hunger. It’s a great encouragement for the community.” 
Somewhere, another group of children, like the one Veronica belonged to or like Ndilibe’s school friends, is waiting, hungry. Their food stores at home are empty and, in the face of their battle to survive, school can no longer be the priority – unless a guaranteed meal awaits them there. Those children can yet become future stars of their communities, representing a new Generation Hope. Or they could become part of a generation lost. One meal could make the difference. Thank you.