April 26, 2020

Dear friend

This week has ended wonderfully!! A carefully constructed plan for us to provide all one million children in our Malawi programme with food at home, whilst schools are closed, has now been approved by the government of Malawi! Across the length and breadth of Malawi, in well over 3000 villages, community volunteers will now begin organising the distribution of our food, by inviting parents to come and collect rations, equivalent to one meal a day, for their children at home. 

And as if that were not enough good news for one week, we can also now confirm that we are able to reach many more thousands of children in our programmes, in a similar way, in other countries such as Haiti and Zambia. In extraordinarily difficult circumstances we are continuing to find new ways to keep our promise of a daily meal for the world’s poorest children.

And that promise is more important than ever in the face of increasingly drastic projections about the impact this pandemic could have on the world’s poorest nations during 2020. Experts are now predicting that the number of people suffering acute hunger – those in need of food aid to survive – is likely to double this year to over one quarter of a billion people. The countries in which we work are among those predicted to suffer most acutely. Haiti, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and South Sudan are named in the worst ten.

We therefore find ourselves placed in the very heart of this battle against the global impact of this pandemic; in the communities where the world’s most vulnerable people live, and with the means to provide the most crucial thing – daily food for the children.

And these needs that we are striving to meet are not just numbers and statistics; they represent the suffering of real people. They are children we have met and talked to about their lives and their dreams. They are the children you have read about and seen smiling in photographs. And sadly the suffering caused by this pandemic is not only something predicted for the future, but rather, today, it is already stalking the slums of India where our partners tell us they have never seen hunger and desperation like this before (and they have already seen more than their fair share of that), and villages that we know across Africa, where already desperately poor people are now unable to travel to do casual labour in order to support their families. 

And so we keep going forward, knowing that our desire to see every child fed each day can still be realised, thanks to our heroic workers and volunteers in Malawi, Zambia, Haiti, Kenya – and in so many other countries too – people who have worked relentlessly since schools closed in order to find a way for us all to fulfil our promises. I hope all of us feel more privileged than ever to be part of this Mary’s Meals family. I certainly do.

But finding ways to deliver the food is, of course, only one part of keeping our promise. The other part, as always, depends on us raising the funds we need to buy that food. And right now, that isn’t easy.

And so, I thank each one of you who, like our staff and volunteers in programme countries, are untiringly finding new ways to do that. Thank you for continuing each day to invite new people into our mission. Thank you for your faithfulness to this work and the children we serve. I am deeply moved by you too – by your faithfulness and by your love.

I thank God for each of those one million children in Malawi, and for all those we are starting to reach in other countries! And I pray that every one of them might grow up healthy and strong, and that in better times to come, they might see their own dreams realised and that one day, maybe they will even tell their own children about their childhood memory of pandemic and school closures and those wonderful food parcels, sent with love by kind strangers they never met. 

God bless,