Giving pupils the strength to study in Malawi

How Mary’s Meals is encouraging Eveless to succeed at school.

Eveless is 12 years old, a confident girl in a pink dress who holds her One Direction rucksack with pride. 
She goes to Gumeni Primary School in Chileka, Malawi – a very rural school where staff used to see many more children from the local villages displaying signs of malnutrition. 
But since Mary’s Meals came to the school in 2012, the teachers have noticed the overall health of the pupils has improved. 
Eveless says the phala (porridge) provided by Mary’s Meals has made a big difference to her and her fellow pupils. She says: “If there was no phala many kids would’ve been weak at school.” 
“Phala makes me full,” she adds. “It gives me nutrients and makes me healthy. It makes me strong.” 

Eveless lives with her parents and three brothers and one sister. The family owns a piece of land where they grow maize, pigeon peas and pumpkin leaves, but this year’s harvest of two bags of maize won’t be enough to feed the family for a year.  
In 2016 a horrible combination of floods and drought throughout Southern Africa devastated crops, leaving many families on the brink of starvation. Reports from this year’s harvest in Malawi are more positive, with local food security improving across the country, but still many families like Eveless’ are struggling. 
Her parents work on other people’s fields to earn enough money to buy the food the family needs. But the occasional jobs are uncertain and their poor harvest means the family faces an uncertain future. 
It’s a precarious living, and the family are only able to eat once or twice a day depending on how much food they have, but the food provided by Mary’s Meals every school day helps Eveless have the strength to study and succeed at school, to help around the house and to play with her friends after school. 
“I am happy when I am eating, because if I don’t eat then I’ll be weak,” she says. 
“I enjoy Chichewa, maths, English and social studies.”  
Eveless knows there’s one direction she wants her life to go in once she leaves school: “I want to be a doctor. It fascinates me seeing how doctors help people,” she says.