Walking towards a better tomorrow

Manu from India is finding hope in the classroom, thanks to Mary’s Meals.

Manu walks for an hour to get to school each morning – barefoot and on an empty stomach.

It’s a long journey but the promise of Mary’s Meals makes it worthwhile.

“I walk with my friends to school,” he says. “I don’t normally eat [breakfast]. I walk for maybe 4km.

“The food here is one of the reasons that I come to school. I feel so hungry by 12 o’clock and I can’t wait for the bell to ring.”

While he and his younger brothers and sisters are at St Michael’s Primary School in Latehar, Jharkhand, his older siblings watch over the family’s animals.

“After school, I play with my siblings who also come to school,” he says. “We wait for my older siblings to arrive home so we can eat together.

“After we eat, I go to play and then I have to come home when my mum calls for me to go to bed.”

Like many families living in the remote villages scattered across rural India, Manu’s parents have a small field where they grow vegetables for the family to eat.

His mum also gathers firewood which she sells to earn money for rice and other essentials. But with seven children to feed, it is a struggle to make ends meet.

“We survive day by day but I come to school to learn and eat and that makes me happy,” Manu explains. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I would love to live in the city.”

Manu is just one of nearly 20,000 children across India who is finding hope in the classroom, thanks to the promise of a daily meal from Mary’s Meals.