India’s children are as varied as its countryside; meet five who are battling the odds to change their futures. 

In India, where poverty and hunger are widespread, life-changing school meals help vulnerable children from the most deprived communities to find hope in the classroom. 

Roshani’s village in the Pakur District has no electricity or running water. Her mum is sick and can’t work so money is tight at home but the daily meal Roshani and her little sister receive at St John’s Primary School helps them stay happy, healthy and on top of their studies. 

She said: “Mary’s Meals gives me a full stomach and I like it!” 

Banwari is from a tribal community with close ties to the jungle that surrounds them. Many of his friends skip school to help grow food or graze animals, but Banwari loves his lessons. 

He said: “I like school because I like the food! They make very good vegetable curries, it’s always fresh! My stomach feels full and I have more energy after I’ve eaten!" 

Champa lives on a rubbish dump in the Sangam Vihar slum. Her dad is a rag picker who sorts through the piles of rubbish looking for scraps of material, metal or carboard to sell. In this impoverished and deeply traditional community, educating girls is unusual. Champa and her little sister are among the lucky few who get the chance to go to school. 

She said: “Some children pick rubbish, but my father has big dreams for us. We come to learn because we hope to become something. I like the Mary’s Meals food. It is made with so much love.” 

Ankit walks 7km through the jungles of Jarkhand to get to school. He used to be so hungry he couldn’t concentrate and was failing exams. Now he eats Mary’s Meals each day and is one of the top students in his class!

 

Anima is from the mountaintop village of Karanapani, where tigers, bears and wildcats roam freely. Her dad has moved to Kerala to find work. He sends money each month but is only able to visit the family once a year. Anima makes several trips to the stream to collect water each morning before heading down to the valley for school.  

She said: “I am most happy when I’m at school. Almost half the children in my village don’t have the chance to get an education. When the lunch bell rings, I run to the kitchen. After I eat, I feel relaxed and stress-free.” 

Thank you for giving children in challenging circumstances the chance to gain an education, which could provide an escape from poverty!