“I am becoming healthy.”

From hunger to happiness: discover the difference a daily meal can make to boys like Philip in Malawi.

Mary Stokes
Mary Stokes
Communications officer, Malawi

It’s clear to see that Philip, 8, has suffered from malnutrition in the past. He is very small for his age.

But today, thanks to the nutritious daily meal he receives at school, Philip has boundless energy, an enormous smile and big plans for the future.

“When I leave school, I want to be a security guard,” he grins. “I am becoming healthy because I eat the porridge. Phala helps me to work hard in class.”

Philip lives with his grandparents in a traditional mud-brick house with a thatched roof. Their home is immaculate. Philip proudly explains that it is his job to sweep the house and yard and keep the area clean.

Like most families in this part of Malawi, Philip’s grandparents grow what food they can on a small piece of land. It is never enough and they scratch together a living by working in other people’s fields.

Philip’s parents have moved to the city in search of work but they come back to visit when they can.

While his grandparents are hard at work, Philip helps with household chores. He wakes long before the sun comes up to sweep and fetch water before heading off to school. He doesn’t eat before leaving home.

The mornings can be cold in Malawi so the steaming cup of porridge, served when the children arrive at school, is a great comfort which helps to warm and fill them before lessons begin.

“School is important because I can become intelligent,” Philip says. “I like to come to school early so I can get food. The phala makes me warm. My grades have improved because of the phala.”

When he gets home each evening, Philip lights a fire and heats water to prepare dinner for the family. Then he does his homework and finds time to play football with his friends before bed. It is a long and busy day for such a young boy, but the food provided by Mary’s Meals every school day gives him energy to learn and play.

Philip’s grandmother Stella, a volunteer with Mary’s Meals, has noticed a big difference in the community, thanks to school feeding.

“I have seen a big improvement in the children,” she tells us. “They are looking healthy and are not malnourished anymore.”