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Ulemu with his classmates reading a book.

Hope is Never Lost

There are millions of children not fulfilling their potential in school because they simply don’t have enough food to eat.

Published on

Ulemu is one of Chigodi Primary School’s newest students, but at 15 years old he should be well into his secondary school career. The teenager missed much of his early education because of hunger; there was little food at home and no school feeding programme at his previous school, so his attendance and performance suffered as a result.

Ulemu enrolled in Chigodi this year, shortly after his father's death, when he moved with his mother to a new village. Sadly, the family still don’t have enough food at home and Ulemu sets off most mornings on his one-hour-long journey to school on an empty stomach, but he hasn’t lost hope.

Ulemu in his classroom.

Chigodi is one of the 1,044 schools in Malawi where our school feeding programme is delivered to students like Ulemu whose lives have been plagued by food insecurity and hunger. The guaranteed nutritious meal that Ulemu and his classmates receive each day at school from Mary’s Meals is a key motivator for them to attend – and to keep attending – and the teenager is seeing the benefit as his school results are back on track.

He says: “If we had porridge at my old school, I could have been in secondary school right now. I would frequently miss classes because there was no food at home. Even if I could go to school, I could not concentrate in class because I was hungry, and the thought that I would not be able to eat at home after school made it even worse."

“I leave home as early as 6am, and I do not eat anything before going to school. I concentrate in class and play with my friends because the porridge keeps me from feeling hungry throughout the day.

“My academic performance has improved since I joined Chigodi.”

Ulemu with his classmates reading a book.

Home life is still challenging for Ulemu; his free time to play with his friends and study for school is often taken up by helping his mother find work so that they can eat in the evenings. Like many other families in Malawi who rely on smallholder farming to survive, Ulemu and his mother are also experiencing the scourge of climate change as increased droughts and flooding hamper their chances of growing food. The family attempted to grow maize last year but was only able to harvest two 50kg bags, which was not sufficient to last. Against all the odds, Ulemu is motivated to attend school – fuelled by the promise of a daily meal – and is learning, growing, socialising with peers and getting ever closer to becoming a doctor, a life-long dream of his.

There are millions of children not fulfilling their potential in school because they simply don’t have enough food to eat.

To help others like Ulemu, please donate today

Mary's Meals Global Hunger Crisis Appeal.

Global Hunger Crisis Appeal