Mary’s Meals calls for urgent support as South Sudan food crisis deepens

Today, we launch an urgent campaign in response to the worsening crisis in war-torn South Sudan and call on your support to help children in desperate need.

Across South Sudan, a brutal civil war is raging. Fighting is forcing families from their homes, schools are being destroyed and 6.3 million people are facing a hunger crisis. As the lean season approaches, this figure is expected to rise and more than seven million people, almost two thirds of the population, could soon be at risk.

We are already reaching 20,520 vulnerable children in South Sudan with life-saving daily school meals and are one of the few organisations providing reliable and consistent food delivery to schools in the country. Working alongside our local partner organisation, the Diocese of Rumbek, we’re feeding desperately hungry children at 40 schools in Rumbek, Yirol and Mapuordit in the Lakes state, a region that has been plagued with persistent violence and food insecurity.

One in every three schools in South Sudan has been destroyed or forced to close since conflict broke out and 72% of primary school age children across the country are missing out on an education – the highest rate in the world. By providing a nutritious daily meal in a place of learning, Mary’s Meals helps to attract vulnerable children into the classroom where they can gain a basic education that could, in future, provide an escape route from poverty.

Moses Kopurot Kenyi, education coordinator for the Diocese of Rumbek, said: “It’s a terrible situation. Many of the children are displaced or without their parents. They are very traumatised. There is a lot of hunger. People are just eating leaves from the trees. Mary’s Meals feeding programme is helping us a lot. For these children, there is no other source of food.

“Education is really important for helping to build peace. Without education, the situation will never change. The division and anger will still be there. We have hope that this will be the generation that will bring an ever-lasting peace in South Sudan.”

During this time of crisis in South Sudan, the daily meal we provide is not just a powerful incentive to come to school, but a vital lifeline for vulnerable children in urgent need of nourishment. For many of them, it will be the only thing they will eat each day. As growing numbers of children flee fighting in other parts of the country, enrolment at schools serving Mary’s Meals is increasing.

Open quote mark We have hope that this will be the generation that will bring an ever-lasting peace in South Sudan. Close quote mark
Moses Kopurot Kenyi, education coordinator for the Diocese of Rumbek

According to the league tables published this February, Daniel Comboni Primary School, the largest school in which Mary’s Meals operates in Rumbek, was ranked the highest performing school in the whole country. This is an extraordinary achievement given the circumstances in which these children live and shows the transformative impact of daily school meals.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, our global chief executive and founder, said: “The plight of children in South Sudan is truly heartbreaking. For them, the promise of a daily school meal has never been more important. Those delivering food to schools in South Sudan are telling us that heavy rain has flooded roads, making it impossible to reach some schools by car. Instead, they are carrying the heavy sacks of food on foot, sometimes over great distances, because they know how much the children in those villages need it. One of our volunteers called Betty, who helps to cook and serve Mary’s Meals, told us, ‘these children are mine and I have to give my best to love them and care for them’.

“We are determined to keep our promise to the 1,257,278 children around the world who rely on Mary’s Meals. With more hungry children arriving at schools in South Sudan each day, we also need your help to meet the growing demand there.

“With your support, we hope to ensure that every new child enrolling at schools in South Sudan already serving Mary’s Meals can receive a daily meal and, as funds allow, also expand our programme to reach 1,657 additional children at five new schools in the country. We can do this with your help, while continuing to expand our programme around the world to reach many more children. I want to thank with all my heart those who are supporting our mission at this time of great need. Together, we can save lives and bring hope to innocent children caught up in this terrible crisis.”

We need your support to continue our life-changing work in South Sudan, and around the world.

  Donate now and help us reach children in desperate need.