“It’s helping me so much.”

Samukar, from Liberia, loves his science lessons, but the thing he likes most about school is Mary’s Meals.

Gerry Naughton
Gerry Naughton
Communications officer, Liberia

Samukar’s mum is so poor that she struggled to feed all seven of her children. Samukar and his older brother, Cash, moved in with their elderly grandmother to help lessen the load.  
 
Although life at his gran’s house is a little better for 13-year-old Samukar, there are still many challenges.  
 
“There are plenty in the house,” he explains. “My uncle, his wife, his son, my big brother.” 
 
Like many families in Liberia, they have a small piece of farmland where they grow cassava to eat – but there are many mouths to feed and is rarely enough food to go around.  
 
Luckily, Samukar knows he can rely on Mary’s Meals to provide a nutritious meal every school day. Without it, he might not manage to keep on top of his studies.  
 
“Mary’s Meals tastes sweet,” he says. “When I finish it, I’ve got more strength to read my notes.” 


 
Samukar gets up early each morning to sweep the house, make a fire and put water on to boil before getting washed and dressed. Then he sets off for school, usually on an empty stomach.  
 
“There is no breakfast so I’m hungry when I come to school,” he says. “Sometimes, if I am hungry, I cannot take notes, but it is different when there is a meal. And sometimes when I go home, some can still be in my stomach when I go on the farm. If Mary’s Meals decided to go, I would feel bad, because it’s helping me so much.”  
 
In Liberia, a staggering 62% of primary school aged children do not go to school, one of the highest figures in the world. But Samukar enjoys his lessons and understands the importance of education. 
 
“Some of my friends in the village are not going to school and it’s not a good idea,” he says. “My message for my friends not going to school would be to tell them to come back, because education is good. It can give you knowledge and make you smart.” 
 
For Samukar and his classmates, there is also the added incentive of Mary’s Meals. The nutritious food fills his empty belly, helping him to stay alert during lessons, take care over his homework and have energy left over to play. 
 
“I can pass my tests because the food helps me,” he says. “It gives me strength. Science is one of the subjects I like. When I get big I want to become a scientist. I love the scientist’s job.” 
 
After school, Samukar helps out on his gran’s farm and does his homework before heading off to play football with his friend Lawrence.  
 
“I play number 7 because I am fast,” he says. “My favourite team is Chelsea.”  
 
Samukar is just one of more than 126,000 vulnerable children across Liberia currently receiving Mary’s Meals at school.