Reading Part 3: Mary's Meals - One Charity's Life-Changing Work in Malawi
- Read the text and the statements on the opposite page.
- Put a tick in the box next to the correct answer.
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seven, sets out for
school in the dawn
mist with a spring in
her step. An
swings from her shoulder; a blue plastic mug is
clasped tightly in her hand. She joins a procession
of children on the red dusty road, chirping away
merrily. "Now she goes to school happy, because
she knows she is going to have some food,"
Beatrice, her 18-year-old sister, who has run the
household since their mother fell ill three years
ago, says. "Before, she was hungry all the time."
Livinesi goes to Chirimba primary school in the
Machinga district of eastern Malawi. She is one of
1,500 pupils there who in the past fortnight have
begun receiving food from Mary's Meals, a
Scottish charity that provides one meal a day in a
child's place of education. It is a remarkably
straightforward aim, but one that changes lives.
The food encourages parents to send their
children to school, enables the youngsters to
concentrate and grow strong, and in doing so
gives hope to some of the world's poorest places.
In certain areas of Malawi school attendance has
risen by 50 per cent since Mary's Meals began
providing food in 2002; a generation of educated
young adults is emerging that otherwise would
have dropped out of school.
This week Mary's Meals expects to mark the
milestone of reaching one million children around
the world – a fact that Magnus MacFarlane-
Barrow, the charity's founder, says is amazing.
"It's a number that is too big to get my brain
around," he says. "But there's a risk of getting
caught up in the excitement of the one million
figure – for us it's all about reaching the next child;
we have waiting lists in every country we work in,
and that drives us on."
Beatrice shows me the room where she and her
sisters – Livinesi, Naomi, 14, and Phoebe, 16 –
sleep together, their bed a mat on the mud floor.
In a second room the wall is covered with hand-
drawn posters of the alphabet and sums. At first
light she wakes her sisters and bathes them. It is
Livinesi's job to sweep the yard, while the others
fetch water. Beatrice organises their school
books, then, when the girls have left for school,
she will clean the house, and walk to the foothills
of Chikala Mountain, towering above them, to look
for saleable firewood. Food has never been part
of their morning routine. A small patch of maize,
sweet potato and pumpkin provides sporadic
nourishment, but not enough for regular meals.
"Having food at school has helped the children a
lot," Beatrice says. "They are energetic and alert,
and can concentrate. They are not gloomy
In 1992, during the Balkan wars, Magnus
MacFarlane-Barrow, asked for aid donations for
Bosnian refugees. He and his brother Fergus
joined a convoy of trucks laden with food and
clothes on what he initially thought was a one-off
mission. It blossomed into a full-time job with an
organisation they named Scottish International
Ten years later, in 2002, MacFarlane-Barrow
travelled to Malawi for the first time, to assist with
famine relief. He met a woman whose 14-year-old
son told him that his one wish in life was to have
enough food to eat, and to go to school one day.
That encounter sparked Scottish International
Relief's evolution into a new school-based feeding
operation, which MacFarlane-Barrow, a
committed Catholic, named Mary's Meals.
The charity now provides for children in 12
countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and
the Caribbean, at an average cost of £12.20 per
child, per year. "I think the reason we have got so
far is that we've found something that really
works," MacFarlane-Barrow says. "It's so simple.
And it's also been successful because it is the
community who own this – they are in charge of
providing volunteers to cook the food, and
The school must agree to build a kitchen, fitted
out to Mary's Meals' standard design, and
organise a rota of mothers to come in every day
and cook the food. They must provide storage
facilities for the sacks of food, and ensure that
they are securely kept, away from potential
thieves. They must usually also agree to plant and
tend to a copse of trees, which can be chopped
down as fuel for the stoves, rather than felling
In return, Mary's Meals will provide consistent
delivery of the food, a stove and cooking utensils.
A monitor will arrive by motorbike – unannounced
– twice a week, to ensure the food is being served
correctly and not taken away for sale. The charity
will feed all the schools in one particular
educational district, to avoid children migrating
from one school to another just to seek food.
Which district is fed depends on where the need
is greatest. Dr Justin Malewezi - an expert on
traditional society – says: "I had no idea just what
one meal a day could do."
(adapted from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/