Life in Liberia: Brad and Alex visit our second largest feeding programme

Brad and Alex are based in the Mary’s Meals Glasgow office – their respective roles in the finance and programmes teams help to support our feeding programme in Liberia.
In this blog, they tell us more about witnessing our second largest feeding programme in action.

Back to all stories | Posted on 29/03/16 in Leben in Liberia

We both feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Liberia. It’s an amazing privilege to see the Mary’s Meals feeding programme first hand and really important in our own roles (Brad as management accountant and Alex as programmes officer) to fully understand the planning and logistics needed to ensure over 130,000 children in Liberia receive Mary’s Meals every school day.

We flew into the capital of Liberia, Monrovia and then drove north to Tubmanburg, where the Mary’s Meals office is based.

In the office there are fans which run 24 hours, seven days a week. But they make absolutely no impact in the sweltering heat! There is always a flurry of activity first thing in the morning when the school feeding officers come in before heading out to visit their schools. 

The Oscar Romero School for the Deaf is the beating heart of the compound, based next to the Mary’s Meals office. There are always kids around. It takes you 15 minutes to walk across the compound because so many children come up to you to sign “hello”, but it’s a great way to start the morning! 

One of our operational warehouses is in Tubmanburg. It has a capacity for more than 1000 tonnes of food and Mary’s Meals delivers just over 500 tonnes of food across the country every month. Inside the warehouse 50kg bags are neatly stacked 8ft high. We had wondered how the team reach to put the bags at the top of the pile but then we saw them make steps out of stacked bags to climb to the top. 

Six-tonne-trucks are then loaded by a team of distribution officers who carry the 50kg bags on their heads with no problem at all! Some of these trucks are too big to make it into the villages as there are no proper roads and lots of rickety bridges, so often the bags are loaded onto smaller vehicles, ensuring that every school gets a fresh delivery of food each month. 

Liberia is very scenic, but it’s a different story in rainy season – roads are tough on the vehicles and very tough on the heads of the people bumping against the inside roof of the vehicle too! Out on the road, there is only the occasional vehicle. We sometimes wondered if we were actually going to see a school and then suddenly the jungle opened up and the village was there!

The kids were fantastic in all of the schools we visited; they were friendly and welcoming. The name ‘Mary’s Meals’ is well known in the communities and when people see the vehicle pulling up, they start cheering. That was definitely one of the highlights of the visit, seeing the reaction at a school when you first arrive. Even though they must see Mary’s Meals all the time, there’s still such interest and excitement and the children even sang a welcome song for us!

The other highlight was seeing the legacy of Mary’s Meals in action – the difference the meals are really making to the children. When you ask them if they would be at school without the food they answer, “probably not”, but now many of the children have big hopes for the future. They all want to be doctors, presidents or professional footballers! 

For me (Alex), it was a particularly special visit as I was last in Liberia with Mary’s Meals more than ten years ago. Mary’s Meals in Liberia was just a glint in Father Garry’s* eye in Tubmanburg at that time, so it was incredible to see the size of the programme there now. You can see how proud the staff in Liberia are to work for Mary’s Meals and the schools are so positive about the impact and the role Mary’s Meals has in the schools and communities there.


*Father Garry is a priest living nearby in Tubmanburg whose mission school (St Dominic’s) was the first recipient of Mary’s Meals feeding programme in Liberia in 2004. You can read more about him and the introduction of Mary’s Meals in Liberia in The Shed That Fed A Million Children.

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