Mary's Meals joins forces with a new partner in Zimbabwe
ORAP will help us reach more people in areas where food is scarce
Children in Umguza District of Zimbabwe are expected to walk anywhere between seven to 17km in each direction between home and school. This would be an arduous commute every day for an adult, let alone for a young child, so providing a meal to sustain them is essential for effective learning. Without food at school, children will regularly skip class, instead going in search of something to eat in order to survive.
Mary’s Meals has been working with partners in Zimbabwe since 2018 to reach more than 70,000 children with a guaranteed meal each school day. Now, in partnership with established Zimbabwean development organisation, ORAP (The Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress), we are also feeding in 15 schools in Umguza District in the southern part of Matabeleland North province. That’s an additional 6,000 daily school meals for children who are struggling to get enough food to eat.
Mvuselelo Huni, CEO of ORAP, says: “The children are enjoying their first cups of porridge now. It will be exciting to look at these children again this time next year. We are expecting to see this programme make a big difference in their lives, with increased enrolment and attendance and from there the participation of the students in the classroom.
“We believe that education is the foundation of development in all of our communities. Making a difference in the lives of these children, will make a difference in the lives of the community and to Zimbabwe as a whole.”
At current estimates, around 7.7 million people living in Zimbabwe will face food insecurity at the peak of the lean season - that’s around half of the entire population. Without enough food, 23% of children drop out of education before even completing primary school.
ORAP has a 40-year history of success in four key districts, focusing particularly on rural areas where poverty and food insecurity severely affect day-to-day life. Reliable food sources are scarce because of poor crop yields largely caused by extreme climatic events such a droughts and floods.
Mary’s Meals staff from Malawi and Zambia have been working closely with our new partners to support them with training and logistics for the new programme. By providing Mary’s Meals in these 15 new schools, ORAP can support the wider community in other ways, by educating and empowering local people to build a more sustainable way of life and strengthen their community for the long-term.