Sarah Mallon explains why Mary’s Meals is urging its supporters to pray for the hungry this May.
Sometimes, on my way to work in the morning, I think about the children making their way to school knowing that a plate, mug, or bowl of Mary’s Meals is waiting for them. I hope that whatever challenges they are facing today, this meal will be a source of comfort.
Mary’s Meals feeds more than 2.4 million hungry children every school day in 18 countries around the world. The promise of a nutritious meal attracts these children into the classroom, where they can gain an education that can be a ladder out of poverty.
It is simple work, carried out in the name of Our Lady, in some of the world’s poorest communities – communities that are also facing serious challenges from food insecurity, climate change and conflict.
In some of the countries where we work, recent events have made life even more difficult for the children who eat Mary’s Meals. From the earthquakes in Syria that caused heart-breaking death and destruction to gang violence endangering daily life in Haiti, the reliable provision of our school meals has never been more needed.
In Malawi too, where Mary’s Meals began in 2002, our meals have been a lifeline for families hit by Cyclone Freddy, which has had a devastating impact on the country. With thousands of homes destroyed, we have seen families drawn to the schools where we work to seek safety in makeshift camps.
Mary’s Meals volunteer, Rose, turned to the familiar surroundings of Mitsidi Primary School as a shelter for her family when their home was destroyed. There, she continued to do what she has done for years: cooking Mary’s Meals porridge for those in need – 600 fellow cyclone victims who had also lost their homes.
Among them were Alayika and her family, including her eldest daughter, whose revision notes were lost in the cyclone with the rest of the family’s belongings. As she prepares for her secondary school entrance exam in the coming weeks, she is worried for her performance.
Yet, Rose and Alayika remain hopeful in the knowledge that Mary’s Meals is continuing to support their children and their community.
As Alayika says: “The porridge is giving us hope for each day”.
While survival is today’s priority, tomorrow these mothers can hope for a brighter future for their children, thanks to a daily school meal and the gift of education.
Praying to Our Lady has been a great source of hope for me in my own life, and when I think about the challenges that children, as well as our volunteers and colleagues, are facing each day in places like Malawi, Haiti and Syria, I think of the opening words of the Memorarae:
“Remember, Oh Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.”
As mothers like Rose and Alayika protect their children from the storms of life, so does Our Blessed Mother protect the work of Mary’s Meals and every precious child who relies on us. Praying these words inspires me to hand over all of these challenges to Our Lady, offering our work to her with the confidence that her
intercession will provide the help that we need.
During the month of May, as Catholics around the world renew their devotion to Our Lady, we invite you to join us in prayer for the work of Mary’s Meals, as we come together with our supporters for our annual Pray In May campaign.
People can join Pray In May by praying the Rosary for the charity, encouraging their church to host a Holy Hour, or asking their parish groups to organise a time of prayer for Mary’s Meals.
We have produced a series of downloadable resources to support these activities, which are available on the Mary’s Meals website, including a series of prayers for adults and children to ask that our work will continue to flourish and that the lives of many more hungry children will be transformed by a daily school meal.
We are also offering beautiful First Holy Communion gift cards that will feed a hungry child for a year for just £19.15.
Whatever way you choose to take part, please ask Our Blessed Mother for her protection and help so that the precious children we feed, and their families, can continue to place their hope in Mary’s Meals to provide a lifeline today, and hope for the future.
We ask for God’s continued blessing on our mission, that we may keep our promise to the 2.4 million children who eat Mary’s Meals in school today, and that we can reach out to more little ones with our life-changing meals.
Thank you for your prayerful support. If you would like to find out more about Pray In May, or you would like a volunteer from Mary’s Meals to give a talk in your church or school, please visit marysmeals.org.uk/prayinmay or call 0800 698 1212.
Sarah Mallon is a Supporter Engagement Officer for Mary’s Meals.