Kenya Close Up: bags of life

How many uses can you find for a Mary’s Meals food sack? Eric from Kenya tells us more.

Eric is a boy of many talents. He uses his creativity to upcycle everyday items at school, and dreams of becoming a professional dancer – all to free his family from a life of poverty in the urban slums of Eldoret in Kenya.  

His mother is sick, so the 13-year-old helps look after his younger brother and sister. “I want to change things back home,” he says. “My house is very small – we do the cooking outside, the bathroom is outside – so I’d like to build a bigger house for my mother.” 

Eric is in a four-piece dance troupe that meets after school and at weekends. Without the Mary’s Meals he enjoys at school each day, Eric would not have the energy to train.  

“In the future I want to be a singer and dancer. I love dancing,” Eric says. “We practise after school sometimes. On Saturday, sometimes we practise dancing all day. If there is nothing to eat, I feel very hungry.  

“Mary’s Meals really helps me. It gives me energy. Sometimes I have breakfast and sometimes not, it is the same with supper. The only food I am certain about is Mary’s Meals at lunchtime.” 

But for Eric, the food sacks used to bring Mary’s Meals to school are not just the source of nutritious daily meals, they are also the main ingredient in an ingenious upcycling project.  

Eric has joined an after-school Environmental Club, run by his teacher Mrs Tum. They transform used Mary’s Meals food sacks, old wool and discarded plastic into everything from shopping bags, purses and blankets to table mats, tarpaulins and mobile phone covers.  

Mrs Tum sells the handmade crafts at the market, using the money to buy food for vulnerable children like Eric to take home to their families.   

Eric says: “It’s brought a lot of change in my life, because most times, I’ve got nothing to eat except for Mary’s Meals, but with this at least sometimes I can carry something back home. 

“One of the things we make is a carrier bag from the old Mary’s Meals sacks. There are many women in the market who buy them. When I see that I feel good.” 

Mrs Tum and the children also grow vegetables – like cabbages and spinach – in the old food sacks.  

These homegrown greens help to supplement the daily meals which the children enjoy each school day.  

She says: “Mary’s Meals is a great help. Even after the food is cooked, we are using the bags to provide more food.” 

We're very proud of Eric and his clever classmates. Your support is fuelling their efforts. Thank you.