A Reason To Stay At School
Find out how daily meals served by Mary’s Meals are giving a teacher hope for the children of Malawi and beyond.
Alexander is one of the longest-serving teachers at Chigodi Primary School in Malawi and he understands the difficulties facing the students who pass through his classroom. Many of his pupils attend school without eating breakfast because they come from struggling families who lack even the most basic things. In the community where he teaches, families depend on farming to survive, and he has seen countless children sacrifice their education to help their parents earn money or tend to the fields.
“Parents in this area rely on farming to make ends meet, but the produce they harvest is insufficient to last them the entire year because they live in large households,” says Alexander. “The crop yield is low because wildlife pests such as monkeys attack the crops, driving food insecurity among households.
“During the farming season, children are tasked with chasing monkeys which affects their academic performance. In some cases, children skip classes to assist their parents carrying out piece works [casual work based on output rather than hours, usually for low pay] and selling farm produce during market days so that the daily needs of families can be met.”
Alexander’s extensive teaching career has not only shown him the hardships of children living in his community. He has also experienced first-hand the importance of Mary's Meals in schools and knows that with the promise of a daily meal, children are more likely to be encouraged to attend lessons rather than being expected to work.
As a teacher, Alexander wants nothing more than for his students to be role models for future generations – continuing their education beyond the walls of Chigodi, securing jobs and being able to look after their families. But the road ahead for his students is not an easy one, especially today. Global issues such as soaring food prices and reduced incomes are also at play in Alexander’s community, adding to the burden felt by families, including his own – he now spends more money on food than ever before. However, with the guarantee of a daily meal at school, children are one step closer to fulfilling Alexander’s aspirations for them – they have a reason to go to school and have enough energy to concentrate in class.
Mary’s Meals has 20 years' experience of working with communities to serve school meals in Malawi, a country with long-standing levels of food insecurity. Over the years, climatic events such as droughts and flooding have shaken Malawi, decimating maize crops and forcing families to exhaust food reserves. The current global hunger crisis is only adding to the challenges facing communities like Alexander’s, but we know that the promise of a daily meal in school makes a huge difference to children living in poverty – addressing their immediate hunger but also giving them energy to learn and hope for a better future.
Please act now to bring hope to some of the world’s poorest children.