Breaking the cycle of poverty… one meal at a time

In India, poverty can be an obstacle to education but, for these students, Mary’s Meals makes it possible to learn.

In India, children attend both formal and non-formal education centres – such as railway platforms or people’s homes. Inequality is rife, and due to the country’s caste system, those born into poverty have very few opportunities. 

Many children don’t get the chance of an education, but every school day almost 20,000 children in India are finding hope in the classroom thanks to the promise of a daily meal from Mary’s Meals. Children like these...

Banwari, 12, lives in a rural area where children are expected to look after animals and crops rather than attend school. The food from Mary’s Meals encourages him to learn and means his family are not so reliant on their harvest. 

Banwari says: “Some of my friends don’t come to school because they are at home grazing the animals. I tell them if they come to school and learn they can also have some very tasty food to eat to help with their chores after school.”

Little Champa comes from a very different part of India. Her family lives in a small tin house in the slums of Delhi, where her father – like many in the surrounding area – works picking rubbish from a tip. Champa’s father wants a better life for his daughter, and knows an education can make this possible.

The education centre she attends serves food provided by Mary’s Meals, which helps to attract children to the classroom. She says: “Everyone who comes to this centre comes to learn, because we all have some sort of hope that we can become something. Having food here really keeps us wanting to come to school.”

Sixteen-year-old Nargis also comes from a Delhi slum. Her father didn’t want his daughters to receive an education, but Nargis was determined, and began attending an informal education centre.

As well as food, she also got a taste for education and learned the numeracy skills needed to help her get ahead.  She explains: “I do my own tailoring from home and calculate how much I charge my customers. That gives me income so I can provide for my mother and siblings.”

For Birandr, 12, a daily meal at school is an incentive to study. He says: “If there was no food here, there would be far fewer learners. The younger children come to school to eat.”

He is confident that his school work is the key to a brighter future. “By educating myself I can do useful work,” he says. “I can be a doctor or policeman if I study.”

A daily meal in a place of learning means that growing minds and bodies get the sustenance they need. For all these children, life is tough – but each one is on a path towards a brighter tomorrow, thanks to you.