Message from Magnus: the deep love for Mary’s Meals in South Sudan

As we continue to reach desperately hungry children in East Africa, our founder Magnus explains how Mary’s Meals’ incredible supporters are helping us achieve remarkable things.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Mary's Meals founder and CEO

Back to all stories | Posted on 08 May 2017 in Update from Magnus

East Africa is in crisis and millions are on the brink of starvation. Drought and conflict have created a humanitarian emergency spanning several countries, including two where we serve Mary’s Meals – South Sudan and Kenya.

Every day in South Sudan’s Lakes state, where Mary’s Meals has been present since 2008, mothers and children – visibly malnourished – are arriving from war-torn and famine-hit parts of the country, searching for food and relative safety. The air here is continuously pierced with the sound of desperately hungry children crying, though many of them appear too weak even for that.

Amid this enormous humanitarian catastrophe, caused mainly by civil war, children continue to eat Mary’s Meals. It is a remarkable thing that each day across 33 schools in South Sudan, more than 18,000 little ones wait in line – in between lessons – for their precious plateful of maize and beans.

The fact that they do so is a testament to the commitment and perseverance of our partner organisation here, their staff, the teachers and the volunteer cooks who – in these appalling and sometimes terrifying circumstances – continue to organise and oversee our programme. There is a deep love for Mary’s Meals in these communities; a profound appreciation that we have stayed faithful to their children through all of this.

Nine-year- old Daniel is one of those children. He has lived a lot of his young life in fear and tells us: “I am afraid of the fighting and the people stealing cattle. I don’t want those people to kill any children.”

Daniel gets up early every morning and milks the family’s cow, so that his younger siblings will have something to drink. He then sets off on the 80-minute walk to school, where he knows he will be fed and where he can enjoy singing and games – and mathematics too. And, because he can go to school, his hope of becoming a doctor one day remains alive. “I want to be like those who are giving us food,” Daniel says, “and help other people in the future.”

Each week, the number of children enrolled in our schools is rising, and surrounding communities are pleading with us to bring Mary’s Meals to their hungry children too. Without daily meals, many places of education are closing altogether. We have told them we will do all we can to reach them, when funds allow.

We realise we have had to make a number of urgent pleas recently – a sad reflection of the challenging times in which we live. Please know that your gifts are never taken for granted. Each and every one is received with the same deep love and appreciation with which Mary’s Meals is met by grateful communities in South Sudan and Kenya today.

Thank you for hearing the cries of these desperately hungry children. We offer our thanks because Daniel and the more than one million other children you helped feed today cannot do so directly themselves.