A charity which provides school meals to impoverished children around the world has served its one billionth meal.
The dish, provided by Mary’s Meals, was eaten by 12-year-old Mohsin, at the Sangam Vihar Informal Education Centre in Noida, India.
He and his classmates were served vegetables and rice - the typical meal prepared by Mary’s Meals volunteers for children in India - after which they celebrated the occasion with dancing and songs.
Mary’s Meals began by feeding just 200 children at a school in Malawi in 2002, but has since grown into a global movement providing meals to more than 1.2 million children across 14 countries every school day.
The Scottish charity’s founder and chief executive, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, said: “While Mary’s Meals isn’t really driven by big numbers, this is a remarkable milestone.
“One billion meals served - that’s a number almost too big to comprehend and one that has been reached simply by focusing on one child, one meal at a time. Every one of those meals is the result of a series of little acts of love carried out by a chain of people all over the world - volunteers who raise awareness and fundraise, people who donate money, those who pray for our work and, of course, the army of local volunteers who cook and serve for the children in their own communities.”
He added: “Whilst we celebrate this milestone, we do so painfully aware that more than 61 million children are still out of school because of poverty and hunger - working, begging or doing whatever it takes to survive - and therefore missing out on the education that can be their escape. Our vision, that every child in this world might enjoy at least one good meal every day in their place of education, burns more brightly than ever.”
Mohsin lives with his parents and five siblings in the impoverished slums of Sangam Vihar. As his mother is ill he helps to support his family by selling rat poison at the local market after school. He relies on Mary’s Meals for a guaranteed meal each school day.
He said: “I wake up in the morning and sometimes there is no food. I get ready, wash myself and go to school. In school, we are guaranteed food. From the food, we get strength, we get energy. It’s like life comes back to my body. We are able to study.”