Please find below a further update on the food aid we are providing to those affected by the famine in Somalia. I have also attached a picture of Magnus, who visited Somalia recently to help with the distribution of aid. Three truckloads of life-saving food aid from a Scottish-based charity have left for famine-stricken Somalia to help suffering children and families.
It is the latest batch of food aid provided by Mary’s Meals which has teamed up with the African relief agency Gift of the Givers to provide around 900,000 meals for those affected by the famine in Somalia. The emergency response for Somalia will bring the total amount of food aid bought by Mary’s Meals so far to nearly 200 tonnes.
The nutritious maize-based porridge Likuni Phala - the same food Mary’s Meals provides to children at its school feeding projects in Malawi - is on its way to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, where tens of thousands of people have fled to in search of food. Mary’s Meals is appealing for public donations to buy more food to send to East Africa as soon as possible.
Until recently, getting aid into Somalia has been difficult due to security concerns, but Gift of the Givers – the largest disaster relief organization of African origin - has been able to gain secure entry and exit. The UN estimates tens of thousands of people, half of them children, have died and a further 750,000 are at risk of death.
Mary’s Meals provides a daily meal in a place of education to chronically hungry children to attract them to the classroom where they can gain an education which can lift them out of poverty in later life.
It grew out of a response to the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s, and has been involved in emergency relief work in countries including India, Burma and Thailand, and most recently Haiti, where the charity was involved in rebuilding its school feeding projects following the earthquake.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, chief executive of Mary’s Meals, who recently visited Somalia, said: “Seeing the difference that our support can make, it is so important for us to continue sending food from Malawi to feed people who will otherwise starve, knowing that every bag of Likuni Phala we can send from Malawi will save lives." He added, “We are delighted that we can now use donations to ensure this food directly reaches so many people who are suffering.”
Mary’s Meals has been working with its partner Gift of the Givers since early September, this year, when as an initial response, it provided 100 tonnes of food aid to Somalia.
Gift of the Givers has been providing medical assistance in hospitals and has set up four feeding camps within Mogadishu, which are now catering for 30,000 malnourished people. Staff at the feeding centres prepare three hot meals of Likuni Phala, which is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, every day to those who are suffering.
The latest batch of food aid – 84 tonnes of Likuni Phala - is being transported by road to Durban in South Africa where it will be shipped to Somalia.
Mary’s Meals began in Malawi in 2002 when founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow met a young woman called Emma who was dying from AIDS. She was sitting on the mud floor of her hut surrounded by her children. When Magnus asked her 14-year-old son what his dreams were in life, his stark reply was: “To have enough food to eat and to go to school one day”. This was a key part of the inspiration that led to the Mary’s Meals campaign. Mary’s Meals is currently feeding over 557,000 chronically poor children with a daily meal in a place of education to attract them to the classroom where they can gain an education which can lift them out of poverty in later life. The charity’s vision is for every child to receive a daily meal in a place of education.
Support for Mary’s Meals is global, with fundraising and awareness raising groups springing up across the world, including Abu Dhabi, Australia, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Malawi, Netherlands and the USA.