How food is making a difference

Sarah’s blog 29/12/21

How many times do we say ‘I’m starving’ or ‘I could eat a horse’. But have any of us actually gone a whole day without any food (unless we’ve been ill)?

Most of the children supported by The William Stewart Foundation don’t eat every day, if they do eat then it’s not a proper meal. The Foundation was originally set up to feed 200+ orphans and vulnerable children in the immediate area. Children were missing school to try to find food/work for a pittance/or they couldn’t afford a pencil to go to school. They were wearing rags. How must that feel to only have one set of clothes that are falling apart? To be cold and dirty as you have no soap to wash your clothes or yourself. To be hungry. To look different. To be an orphan. To have been affected by trauma. Existing, not living. Suffering from malnutrition.

As there are no big agencies feeding children that far north, word spread when The Foundation started feeding the orphans and other vulnerable children once a week. They are fed a substantial meal of maize, beans, vegetables and tomato relish which is the only big meal they get each week. It’s not enough but better than nothing. Soon children were walking from other villages for food, some walking as far as 20km for a meal, then 20km home again. It’s a different world. On average 500 orphans and other vulnerable children turn up for a meal each week. It costs approximately £100 each week to feed these children….a small amount per child but it quickly adds up when you are feeding 500 hungry mouths. Sponsored children receive a monthly food parcel in addition to this. It’s enough to supplement the household food but not to replace it…no one wants the villagers to rely on handouts….the people are proud and want to be self-sufficient, they just need a bit of help as things have been so bad.

Teachers started noticing that these children are more alert and can concentrate, even from one nutritious meal a week….imagine if we could feed them more often? Children’s grades are improving because they can concentrate and aren’t quite so tired and hungry.

Also, children are more confident as they’ve been given new clothes and soap to wash themselves and use the new showers at the Foundation. Teenage girls no longer miss a week of school each month as they hide at home in shame. They now have reusable sanitary towels and new pants. All these things are making a difference to children’s education and education is the key to helping them out of the dire poverty they live in.

These are some of the things I am thinking about for this next year and I’d love to hear if anyone has any ideas of ways that we can provide the children with more food.

  1. Should we ask businesses or individuals to sponsor a week of the feeding programme and have their business name displayed or an individual’s name or message for a birthday for example displayed? This could enable us to provide either food for additional people or to have the food programme running more often.
  2. What about if we found at least 25 people willing to donate £5/£10 per month on an ongoing basis to provide extra food for the feeding programme.
  3. I would love to provide a mug of porridge for the school children every day to start off their learning with food in their tummies. No big agencies are in the area that The Foundation is in. This could happen but again would require an ongoing commitment from a few people to feed all children a mug of porridge. Even a couple of times a week would be better than what they have currently. Can you imagine the exam results in a couple of years time after we’ve donated 17 boxes of reading books and were able to provide porridge in addition to that?

For everything we do, we require help and support. We are all part of a team together, each playing our part and using our skills. If you like any of these ideas and want to be involved or have better or different ideas or can raise some funds then please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Thanks for reading, Sarah x

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