With an updated figure of 6.5 million people in Malawi now facing chronic hunger, global school feeding charity Mary’s Meals today launches the urgent campaign, Crisis in Malawi, in an effort to help lessen the devastating impact of the country’s current food crisis.
Southern Africa is facing its gravest state of food insecurity in many years – a combination of severe droughts and flooding has destroyed crops and devastated harvests.
In Malawi, one of the most severely affected countries, many families are on the brink of starvation and the Malawian government has declared a state of national emergency. The southern districts, where Mary’s Meals has a major presence, are worst hit.
Mary’s Meals currently provides more than 800,000 Malawian children with a nutritious daily meal in school, supported by a countrywide network of 65,000 dedicated community volunteers – often mothers who cook and serve the food for their children.
Through its Crisis in Malawi campaign, the charity is appealing for support to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of children who already depend on its school feeding programme can continue to be fed, while – as funds allow – expanding to reach even more children, in the most chronically food-insecure areas.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the organisation’s founder and chief executive, has just returned from Malawi, the country where Mary’s Meals first began its work amidst the devastating famine of 2002.
Magnus says: ‘I am appalled at the suffering of the people at the centre of this deepening crisis. I spoke to family after family who have already run out of food so soon after their harvest, who really do not know how they will survive the coming months. There is real desperation in many rural areas, but I also heard repeatedly that Mary’s Meals was their one certainty.
‘The promise of a daily school meal has never been more important in Malawi and we are determined to maintain that promise to the hundreds of thousands of children already benefitting and to find a way to reach even more schools in the worst-affected areas. On behalf of all those families I met, I want to thank with all my heart those who are supporting our mission at this time of very great need.’
During this time of crisis, the daily meal Mary’s Meals provides is not just a powerful incentive to come to school – but a vital lifeline for vulnerable children in desperate need of nourishment.
This is something mother-of-six Eurita, 43, [pictured above with her family] knows very well. Since her husband died, she has fought to keep the family going, but recently – with the fields yielding little and work very scarce – it has been impossible to make ends meet. Amidst this crisis, she fears for the future of her young children.
Eurita says: ‘I just watch my children and I feel helpless.
‘There is no food at home and it’s heart-breaking as a mother to see my children like this. I am in the dark. I do not know where my family is heading and I’m scared.’
But there is some light in Eurita’s daily struggle for survival. Her children now attend Mchenga Primary School every day, where they receive a nutritious mugful of vitamin-enriched maize porridge from Mary’s Meals. The children in the top photograph, queueing for these meals, are carrying the signature blue mugs of Mary’s Meals.
The charity needs public support to continue providing a safety net for struggling families like Eurita’s, for whom school feeding guarantees a daily meal for their children – vital support at this time when access to food is so limited and parents fear for their children’s futures.
You will find more information about Mary’s Meals and the opportunity to donate to this Argyll-born and hugely important hard working global charity here at the Mary’s Meals website.