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Charity ‘Mary’s Meals’ has launched an appeal to provide more school meals for desperately hungry children in South Sudan – the country with the world’s highest rate of children out of education.

Learning across South Sudan has been drastically hindered by years of violence and upheaval, with survival often taking priority over children attending school. Internal displacement, deep poverty and hunger mean that life for families is a real struggle.

  • Over 70% (2.2 million) of primary school aged children are not in education, with girls more likely to miss school.
  • More than half (55%) of people have insufficient food intake.
  • A third (31.3%) of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Mary’s Meals is already feeding around 70,000 hungry children every school day in South Sudan. Now, the UK-based charity is appealing for support to reach even more hungry children with a nutritious meal at school.

Daniel Adams, executive director of Mary’s Meals, says: “Our nutritious meals are giving children in South Sudan the energy to learn, hope for a better future and some respite from the immense difficulty of everyday life.

“Mary’s Meals is one of very few organisations delivering desperately needed food to schools in this country. We are already feeding around 70,000 children every school day – and we are determined to reach even more little ones with our life-changing meals. To do this, we need your support.”

Mary’s Meals provides school meals for children living in some of the world’s poorest countries – including Malawi, Haiti, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen. The promise of a daily meal attracts hungry children to the classroom, where they receive an education that can, in the future, be their ladder out of poverty.

In South Sudan, the charity works in partnership with local organisations, Diocese of Rumbek and Mary Help Association, to serve maize and beans to pupils at 114 schools in the Warrap and Lakes States regions, where thousands of people have fled to seeking refuge.

Moses, who works for Mary’s Meals’ partner Diocese of Rumbek, says: “Many schools were destroyed by the conflict. I have visited new primary schools that have been built far away from the towns, in make-shift sheds and under trees.

“I was there when we took the food to these communities. Words are not enough to describe the happiness of the children. They jumped with joy – dancing, singing and shouting. They were so eager to learn and attendance at the schools is rising because of the promise of a good meal.”

Abak and Aping’s story

Sisters Abak and Aping enrolled at school last year when Mary’s Meals set up a school feeding programme.

Aping (12) is in primary two. She says: “The only food we get in a day is from Mary’s Meals. That is what made us join the school since we don’t have food at home.”

The girls live with their grandmother. She is weak and ageing, but she does her best to provide modest shelter and love for the two girls who help tend a very small patch of land growing vegetables. When they are lucky enough to get a small harvest, they sell what they have to buy soap and salt.

To donate to the Mary’s Meals South Sudan Appeal, please visit marysmeals.org.uk/south-sudan-appeal or phone 0800 698 1212.

You can also view a ‘Live’ hunger map of the world on this website https://hungermap.wfp.org/