Mary's Meals Ireland board member, Patricia Friel, shares a diary from her recent trip to Zambia.

Back to all stories | Posted on 13 December 19 in Blog

On a recent visit to Zambia, Board Member Patricia Friel, got a taste for how Mary’s Meals helps children and communities. Here, she shares a diary from her trip:


Day 1

We set off early, traveling along bumpy red roads. Our first stop was Kamulaseni Community School, where we chatted with the children, who were excited but very shy. We taught them the actions to The Wheels on the Bus’, which generated enormous smiles!

Then we were invited into the kitchen to see likuni phala (a nutritious porridge made from corn and soya) being cooked. When the meal was ready, the children lined up in a very orderly fashion, making sure to wash their hands at the ‘tippy tap’ with soap.

It was amazing to see the immaculate storage room where the food is kept – and meticulous record keeping! We also heard how Mary’s Meals has provided seeds so trees can be planted around the school, ensuring there’s enough firewood to cook food for years to come.

Day 2

Another wonderful, and very emotional day. Our bus experienced engine trouble but a lovely local community helped get us back on the road.

The first school we visited was a lot of fun! I met two wee tiny tots with the cutest school uniforms and many of the volunteers who make the meals. It takes three long, hard hours to cook the porridge in huge pots over open fires. Each pot holds 25kg of porridge!

When we arrived at the second school, so many parents were waiting to shake our hands and thank us on behalf of Mary’s Meals supporters – you should have seen their faces!

Day 3

Day three started with a visit to a lovely school. The teacher introduced us as visitors from Mary’s Meals, saying: “They are here in person today, but they come to see us every day through the porridge that we eat”. That really touched me and when I went to speak, I had to hold back the tears. 

At the second school, we joined children for a short game of football in 40 degree heat! In the kitchen we met five volunteers – one didn’t even have children at the school but still wanted to help! 

Our final visit was to Comaco, the company that supplies Mary’s Meals porridge. It was wonderful to learn that they buy corn and soya from more than 190,000 local farmers!

At each school we’ve visited over the last few days, I explained how Mary’s Meals is a team. It’s our job to raise money and it’s the children’s job to listen to their teachers and learn as much as they can! 

Time and again, parents and teachers talked about the difference Mary’s Meals makes at their schools – enrolment is increasing, attendance is going up. We thanked the volunteers who work so hard to cook the food; they told us how grateful they are to us for providing it and asked that we please continue feeding their children.