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Arushi with a friend, receiving their meal from a volunteer.

A determination to succeed

Arushi is a bright, hopeful and incredibly self-sufficient student, though she might not describe herself as such. Read about her amazing story in our latest case study.

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Arushi and her younger sister receive nutritious servings of Mary’s Meals each school day – but getting themselves to a place where they can attend school consistently and receive these meals has not been easy. The support the sisters receive from Mary’s Meals is vital, as their family do not make much money. “There are four of us in our family: my father, mother, younger sister, and me. My father is a farmer, and my mother is a housewife. My father is the only breadwinner, we have just enough to live our daily lives.”

The school feeding programme is having a significant and positive impact on Arushi’s day-to-day life: “Mary’s Meals provides me with proteins and other nutrition which helps me concentrate in my studies. I like Mary’s Meals very much, and I am very grateful to all the Mary’s Meals supporters.”

In order to offer them an education, Arushi’s parents agreed to send the two sisters to live with their aunt and uncle who lived closer to the school. This situation sadly became unhappy and at times violent, and jeopardised Arushi’s opportunity to learn.

“We would have to do the household work all the time. They used to send us to look after grazing cattle and other work instead of attending school. During paddy cultivation season, they prevented us from attending any classes.”

The future looked bleak. Though their children’s education was under threat, Arushi’s parents had to stay where they were because of the location of their farm. Also, a deep family divide meant they could not look to other relatives for support.

“Because my parents were married on their own choice, both the families did not accept our parents into their houses. This made my parents want to move away from their own villages and they started staying in a rented house.”

School girls in India enjoying their lunch at school.

It is a testament to Arushi’s character and determination that she managed to convince her parents it was essential for her to be educated. To her delight, her parents decided to rent a place for Arushi and her sister to live. The girls left her aunt and uncle’s home and began attending school every day.

At the tender age of 13, Arushi is now in charge of looking after herself and her sister and running their own house independently, all in the hope of pursuing a brighter future. Now that she is the head of a household, the daily school meal from Mary’s Meals is more vital than ever.

Her parents visit them, although travelling the 120km distance that separates them is not easily done. Their visits are cherished by the two children. “Our parents come once a month to meet us, but I miss my parents’ company. It is only during the long holidays that we can go home.”

This level of independence comes with a great deal of challenges. “My sister and I stay in a rented house, situated at the foothill of the dense forest. The surrounding area is not safe. It is full of wild animals, especially elephants. We do not have electricity in our area, and we face water scarcity in the summer season as the water level goes down in the well.”

Arushi dreams of becoming a teacher and it’s not surprising that she brings her tenacity, strength of character, and incredible sense of responsibility to the classroom too. “I want to complete my schooling by achieving A grades across all of my subjects. Then I will continue with my studies in a good college. I want to be a good teacher, and I want to help the poor village children, especially the girls like me.”

Despite a living situation burdened with great challenges, Arushi remains focused in her desire to help others when she grows up. Her appreciation of education goes far beyond her years: “I want to motivate the children who do not go to school. I believe only education can bring about a social and economic change in our lives.”

Living with such challenges every day, being able to rely on receiving one nutritious meal goes a long way, both physically and mentally. With daily meals served consistently at her school, Arushi knows she and her sister can rely on the promise of Mary’s Meals, reducing the worries about when they will next be able to eat.

Arushi is not alone in believing that education will be the key to unlock the potential of her community. With your support, Mary’s Meals can continue to provide hope and encouragement by serving nutritious meals in a place of learning for some of the world’s poorest children. Children who can, given the opportunity, show incredible commitment and perseverance in their journey towards a brighter future – just like Arushi.

Children eating Mary's Meals

Food Changes the Story

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