Mary’s Meals is growing in Benin

Every child is someone

Back to all stories | Posted on 11/10/21 in NewsBlog

For more than half of all children living in the West African Republic of Benin, the joy and wonder of primary education is prematurely cut short.

Most young people fail to complete their primary school years due to financial hardship. In families where there isn’t enough food for everyone, survival is prioritized over learning, which leaves children to spend their days searching for something to eat.

Around one in three young children suffer from chronic malnutrition and basic literacy is beyond reach for the vast majority.

At Akpadonou primary school, in the southern region of Benin, the introduction of the Mary’s Meals school feeding program means these circumstances are changing. The guarantee of a nutritious meal for each of the 642 students every school day is an incentive to attend class and provides reassurance that they will be able to learn more effectively without being troubled by hunger.

As our trusted local partners, the Soeurs de Marie de la Médaille Miraculeuse, arrived with food to cook for the entire school, the students celebrated enthusiastically along with their parents.

Young Samuel Ahikpo, in class 5, tells us the joy Mary’s Meals has brought to their small community: "When we see the Sisters coming, everyone in the class runs out to see what they brought this time. Is it rice or corn for porridge or something else?

“This time they brought eggs. It made us all very happy. Imagine, each child was given one egg with rice.

“I don't know yet what I will be when I grow up, but with the canteen, I will be strong. And when I grow up, I will be someone, not no one."

After suffering the effects of repeated floods and droughts, the entire country of Benin is vulnerable to food insecurity. Many families rely on agriculture for a living, but poor-quality soil and antiquated farming technology make it even more challenging to earn a living.

Mary’s Meals has provided food through our partners in Benin since 2011. Together with the Sisters, our program delivers food to children at four additional schools in areas of the country that are particularly affected by food shortages and hunger.

This small program in some of the poorest communities in Benin has a big impact on children like Samuel. Today and every day, Samuel and his friends are now nourished and continue to grow and learn, hopefully recapturing some of the joy and wonder of education and childhood.