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Mary's Meals volunteer cooks from Malawi preparing porridge to serve to school children.

Meet the Children Behind the Numbers

Today, on International Day of Charity, we are celebrating some of the young people whose lives are being transformed with the promise of a daily meal at school

Published on

International Day of Charity – marked annually on 5 September – is a day to highlight the importance of charity and encourage people of all walks of life to explore opportunities to help others like volunteering or supporting charitable work. As a grassroots movement, we recognise the importance of each person involved in our mission, whose efforts, no matter how small, are key to helping us reach the next child.

At Mary’s Meals, children are at the heart of everything we do. The children we serve are extremely vulnerable, living in desperately difficult conditions which are becoming even more challenging because of the current global hunger crisis.

Our school feeding programme – operating in 20 countries worldwide – addresses hunger at school and helps to break down some of the barriers standing in the way of children’s education. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of thousands of people around the world – united by our vision that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education – 2,279,941 children living in some of the world’s poorest communities are thriving in school because they can rely on a nutritious meal being served there each day.

Growing up healthy and educated, the children enrolled in our school feeding programme have great aspirations for life and, by attending school, are gaining the tools and skills they require to get them to where they want to be. Meet some of the millions of children who enjoy Mary’s Meals every day at school:

Samer, 12, Lebanon

“I have my parents, brother, and grandparents. I love my family. I live with my family in a small house. We only have one room. It is very different from our previous home.

“School is good; I can’t imagine my life without school. I like learning, and I want to be a good person. I have friends, and my favourite subject is science.

“I enjoy the school meals. My friends and I are very happy to have the opportunity to get a tasty breakfast that gives us energy throughout the day. Mary’s Meals makes it easier for me to go to school. I go to school without breakfast, but my mother is happy that I am going to get a clean and tasty meal. I feel better and full of energy after eating it.”

Stefania, Haiti

"School is important because if our parents can't read or write, we can help them at home.

“My favourite subject is social science. I like the class and it helps me at home. I want to be a doctor when I finish school. Then, if my mum or dad are sick, I will be able to take care of them.

“Before Mary's Meals, I spent more than six or seven days without coming to school because there was no food at home, and I didn't learn anything. Now I am coming to school every day and I am learning better."

Ketty, Zambia, 12

Ketty is deaf and attends a specialist residential school.

“The best thing that ever happened to me was making friends at school. I am glad to have an education and the chance to learn. Because that was all I ever wanted. I am glad to have the skill of sign language to communicate. I thought there was nothing I could do but finding a school like this one made me very happy. I love the porridge and I love playing football with my friends. It’s very easy for me to make friends now. I have a lot more friends here than at home.”

Manu, India

“I walk with my friends to school. I don’t normally eat [breakfast]. I walk for maybe 4km. The food here is one of the reasons that I come to school. I feel so hungry by 12 o’clock and I can’t wait for the bell to ring.

“After school, I play with my siblings who also come to school.

“We survive day by day, but I come to school to learn and eat and that makes me happy. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I would love to live in the city.”

Ulemu, 15, Malawi

“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 [School].”

Look out for more on Ulemu's story in the coming weeks.

Mary's Meals Global Hunger Crisis Appeal.

Global Hunger Crisis Appeal

Help us reach the next child waiting.