Message from Magnus: Ethiopia awaits Mary’s Meals

Our founder Magnus, shares his hope that together, we can reach children like Dawit in Ethiopia.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Founder and Global Chief Executive

Back to all stories | Posted on 05 Sep 2017 in Update from Magnus

Recently – among the hills in the highlands of Tigray, northern Ethiopia – I had a conversation I won’t forget.

“I don’t want to live in this poverty forever. I want to escape it,” the young boy before me says with some emotion. He sounds a little puzzled at my question.

“I want to be able to help other people – maybe I can even become a doctor one day,” he adds more quietly, looking at the floor. These are the reasons Dawit, 15, gives me for him leaving home at 5am, and walking three hours to reach school.

He has eaten a small breakfast before heading out along the dark, stony path – but since then, he has consumed nothing and won’t eat again until he arrives home at 7pm. Fourteen hours without food, six of them walking; this is what Dawit does every school day so that he might learn.

Despite his age, Dawit is still in grade eight. Like many children here, his education has been disrupted by poverty and hunger, and it’s taken him longer than it should have to complete primary school. But Dawit will not give up.

He tells me all this without a word of complaint. He looks bemused when Sister Medhin, who is translating our conversation, begins to cry.

We finish talking to him and his head teacher – from whom we learn that every child in this school goes without food all day long – and step out into the bright, warm playground.

It’s 12:30pm and the sun sits high in the sky. The children have left their classes for what I was about to call ‘a lunch break’. A group of them sit silently in the shade of a wall, smiling shyly at us.

When I look around, I see a playground in which no-one plays, during a lunch break in which no-one eats. This is a school waiting for Mary’s Meals.

It sits in the heart of the area that suffered the infamous and devastating famine of the 1980s – the one prompting the Live Aid concerts. Today, the people here suffer the effects of this latest drought without global attention.

The children at this school will soon be the first in Ethiopia to receive Mary’s Meals. The local community is ready and eager to volunteer – to build a kitchen, and to cook and serve the food – as soon as we tell them we can begin.

With your incredible support, we hope to raise the funds to start in the next few months. Please God, on a future visit this playground will look and sound the way a playground should.

On behalf of the 1,230,171 children already receiving Mary’s Meals, and those who will soon be joining them, thank you for sharing our belief that every child should have enough to eat and an education.