Feeding the Future, Fueling Dreams. Meet Generation Hope

From Hunger to Hope. With a meal at school, came hope and the possibility of a different future. Meet Generation Hope.

Back to all stories | Posted on 01/19/24 in Blog

A new year is synonymous with a new start. For more than two million children, every day offers a new start. While a school meal may sound simple, in many of the 18 countries where Mary’s Meals serves, it can be anything but simple.

Yet in all these countries, school meals have the power to transform lives. It is meeting friends, playing, and, with a full stomach, learning and growing. While a meal may draw children to school to meet their immediate need for food, it also provides access to an education that can help break the cycle of poverty.

Since beginning school feeding in Malawi in 2002 with 200 children, Mary’s Meals has evolved into a global school-feeding movement, now providing meals to more than 2.4 million children every school day. In fact, two decades later, a new group of young people that received Mary’s Meals has become known as Generation Hope and gone on to higher education, to have successful careers and families, and in some cases, to work for Mary’s Meals.

These young men and women persevered through unimaginable circumstances: abject poverty; orphaned very young; lacking access to food, education, or special services; suffering from hunger, a constant companion. Until they started receiving a meal at school.

Their stories now serve as inspiration for millions of children, and today, their lives look very different than when they began attending a school supported by Mary’s Meals. Find out how.

For Lette and Blessings of Malawi, and for Moses and Marnue of Liberia, a meal at school nourished their minds and bodies and fed their hopes. These young adults who received Mary’s Meals are now changing their families, futures and communities. Here we share their powerful stories of transformation and hope. They are called Generation Hope.

Malawi in southeast Africa: Lette and Blessings

Lette

In 2011, during the filming of Child 31, the first Mary’s Meals film, we met an orphan named Lette. Her story was as compelling as it was heart breaking.

With an older brother out searching for work to help feed the family, Lette became the head of the household caring for her younger brothers and herself at just 12 years old. Life was a daily struggle for survival. With no food, there were days they were forced to eat pumpkin leaves to survive, and she was unable to attend school regularly.

After the filming, Lette began attending the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi and blossomed both in health and with an appetite for education. Happily, she has graduated and now has a little boy named Phillip, who also attends school and, as Lette emphasizes, will be educated. Lette continued her education and has graduated from college and is now volunteering with Mary’s Meals.

“When I look back in the past, I see what Mary’s Meals has meant in my life – more than you guys know. I have good opportunities and an education, and to me it’s amazing because I can see that my dreams are coming true.”

Blessings

Blessings attended a school where Mary’s Meals was provided. Known as likuni phala (porridge), he says the food provided him with the incentive to attend school and gave him the energy to learn.

Since then, he has graduated school, has a family of his own and works as an electrician. He hopes to further his education and establish his own company. Blessings proudly supports his family, pays school fees for relatives, and has invested in a motorbike to help move his business forward. 

“I have great ambitions. I currently employ others through my work. If I continue employing other people, I will help to address unemployment among the youth here. On top of my work as an electrician, I am also a farmer. I dream of growing my farming business to sell milk to the community and ensure my parents have reliable sources of income as they get older. With the right education and determination, the possibilities are endless."

Liberia in western Africa: Moses and Marnue 

Moses

Since 2006, Mary’s Meals has been supporting school-feeding programs in Liberia and now serves more than 150,000 children. One of those children was Moses, then a student in a school in Liberia.   

Today, Moses is a School Feeding Officer assigned in Bomi County, Liberia – Klay district.  The impact Mary’s Meals made on Moses was immediate and lead to his life’s work.  

“I’m happy to be part of Mary’s Meals. I ate Mary’s Meals when I was in school and right after my graduation I was moved and encouraged looking at the work Mary’s Meals is doing and I joined the global movement.”

Marnue

Having grown up in the capital city of Monrovia as a deaf child of hearing parents, Marnue struggled in mainstream education. With no sign language interpreter or appropriate resources and a lack of enough food to eat at home, Marnue faced major barriers in her education and her life outside the classroom.   

When Marnue began attending ORS, a school supported by Mary’s Meals, she received regular meals, learning support and became part of a community often enjoying the game of kickball. She has since graduated and is moving forward with her dream to become a professional beautician.  

“I could never have reached this far without the support of Mary’s Meals. ORS is a place to prepare deaf children for the future.” 

It’s been said that an empty stomach does not have ears to listen. Generation Hope shows how a daily meal at school enables the education, growth and opportunities that helped these young people to fulfill their potential and work toward their dreams. 

Just $25.20 feeds a child for an entire school year!

Donate today