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Four young girls sitting at a bench in front of food bowls smiling and looking happy.

Mary’s Meals expands in Zimbabwe

The joy of returning to school was doubled for thousands of children from Goromonzi District, in the Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe.

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Not only did schools re-open after persistent closures due to Covid-19, but even more children were given a cup of Mary’s Meals porridge to fill their stomachs during their school day for the very first time. More than 18,000 children from 26 schools were served Mary’s Meals for the first time, including the young learners at Howson Primary.

Headteacher Zacharia Machingura tells us about the impact Mary’s Meals is having on the children: “A lot of learning time was lost because of the lockdown, and it was difficult to cover the syllabus. Children would complain if we extended the learning hours because they would have empty stomachs.

“Now if the teacher decides to extend the learning period by two hours, the children love it because they no longer have hungry stomachs and are eager to learn. Now the pass rate will improve, thanks to Mary’s Meals.

“There was a big problem with absenteeism and truancy. Children were failing to come to school because of hunger. Now that’s a thing of the past.”

This large-scale expansion in Zimbabwe has been made possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of our partners at Mavambo Orphan Care, who were already successfully delivering the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme to almost 40,000 children across the Harare and Mashonaland East Provinces. We have also been working together to provide children with take-home rations whilst schools were closed.

Now, after a difficult period of disruption, children are back in school with energy and enthusiasm and a guaranteed meal each day to help them learn and grow. There are currently two sittings per day in schools to allow for social distancing and the safe distribution of meals.

Mary’s Meals began working with Mavambo in October 2020. Mavambo’s vision is to establish a healthy, self-sustaining community for all children, empowering them to develop their maximum potential. Zimbabwe is one of the world’s poorest countries with more than 60% of its people living below the poverty line.