Celebrating International Youth Day - Part I

As we commemorate International Youth Day, we celebrate the youth in our Mary's Meals family, all over the world, who are the builders of a better tomorrow.

Back to all stories | Posted on 10 August 20 in News

Alinafe from Malawi says she will never forget the joyful morning of Monday August 2, 2007. The head teacher had just announced during assembly that her school would soon be receiving Mary’s Meals. The air was filled with whistling and song! It was the beginning of a new chapter for Alinafe and her 3,500 classmates at Zingwangwa Primary – they would no longer be hungry at school!

Alinafe is just one of the hundreds of thousands of youth who have grown up receiving Mary's Meals at school, helping them to gain that all-important education. Here are some of her words about how this has impacted her life, and the lives of so many other youths, who are now going on to make change in their communities:

"Growing up in a semi-urban township near Malawi’s capital city, Blantyre, my childhood was not always rosy. My family was poor, and I would often go to school on an empty stomach. It was really hard to concentrate in class and I was always distracted by the grumbling of my empty belly.

"The impact of Mary’s Meals was tremendous! Enrollment increased and there were a lot of new faces in the school. Nobody wanted to miss out on the porridge. My parents would always make sure that I had my cup and spoon with me when I left for school each morning.

"Before I had been absent due to hunger. Now I became more active and attentive in class. I became one of the top students and was selected for a place at Ekwendeni Girls Secondary School. Porridge brought something new in me to life. It drove me to be someone and that spirit is still in me today!

"The promise of food at school has really benefitted children in Malawi. Porridge helps them to stay in class and realise their potential. One of my friends is now in her final year at the university of agriculture and another is an accountant.

"I enrolled with the Malawi Institute of Journalism in 2015 and today, I am a reporter at YONECO FM (a youth radio station). I really love my job as a journalist, being a voice for the voiceless and the less privileged. I am passionate about helping children, like I was once helped by Mary’s Meals."

Watch this short video from Alinafe where she describes the impact of Mary's Meals, and her desire to now contribute to the lives of others:

Alinafe, your example of getting an education and creating change for your community is inspiring! To read about some Canadian youths who are doing the same, please see Celebrating International Youth Day - Part 2.

If you are a young person, ages 15 - 25, looking to make a difference and would like to start your own youth movement, visit our Create your Movement page.

There are many different ways you can help by donating your time, money, thoughts and prayers.