“Mary’s Meals can help us.”

The promise of a daily school meal is helping football fan Zinneh to reach his ultimate goal.

Gerry Naughton
Gerry Naughton
Communications officer, Liberia

Back to all stories | Posted on 27 Oct 2017 in Children's stories

Zinneh, 13, is a keen footballer who dreams of playing for his school team one day – but his ultimate goal is to become a doctor.

In Liberia, a country still recovering from years of civil war, more than 60% of primary school aged children do not go to school. For Zinneh and his friends in Grand Cape Mount County, the promise of Mary’s Meals helps attract them into the classroom, giving them the chance to gain the education that could be their ladder out of poverty and hunger. 

Zinneh is one of 11 children and, although some of his older siblings have now left home, his parents still have many mouths to feed. Knowing that their children are guaranteed at least one good meal each school day gives them peace of mind.

“When I eat Mary’s Meals, I feel good,” Zinneh says. “It helps us to read and write well. My favourite food is rice and beans.

“If Mary’s Meals decided to stop bringing food to the school I would feel bad. I would ask the teachers to bring Mary’s Meals back. I would tell them Mary’s Meals can help us.”

Zinneh knows how important an education can be, and shares this with his friends regularly.

“Every day, I talk to them,” he says. “I tell them I like school, that school is good. School can help you to become president, vice-president or senator.

“I would like to become a doctor when I finish school. People do not have good doctors here. I want to help because this is my home.”

The food Zinneh and his classmates receive at school doesn’t just help them to concentrate on their lessons, it also gives them the energy to study and play throughout the day.

Zinneh says: “After school, I help my Ma around the house, then I take my books and study, then I play for a bit.

“I like to play football, but it’s very difficult to play if you’ve not eaten first. You feel weak.

“I don’t play for the school team but when I reach grade 12, I hope I will. I am good at tackling and passing. My favourite team is Real Madrid.”

And this talented teen isn’t just skilled on the pitch; Zinneh also loves to perform and has even written a poem about how Mary’s Meals is changing lives in Liberia.

Whatever the future holds, Zinneh knows that education – and the guarantee of a nutritious daily meal – will help him along the way.