Celebrities back Express Christmas appeal to feed thousands of children

Celebrities have thanked Express readers for giving children “the gift of hope this winter” by donating over £15,000 to our Christmas appeal.

There is still time to give to the UK charity Mary’s Meals, which feeds a cup of fortified porridge to 2.4 million children across 18 countries.

There is still time to donate to the cause which has today (WED) been praised by Bake Off winner Giuseppe Dell’Anno, presenter Jean Johansson and chef Gary Maclean.

Mr Dell’Anno said: “Thank you so much for supporting the Express Christmas Appeal! Your support will help Mary’s Meals reach the next hungry child waiting for a daily school meal.”

Mary’s Meals feeds 420,896 children across 752 schools in Zambia every day.

It costs just 10p on average to provide a child with a meal – adding up to £19.15 to feed a child for a whole school year.

Ms Johansson, of Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun, said: “Thank you to everyone who has responded to the Daily Express appeal so far. 

“By kindly donating, you will help the charity to keep their promise of serving life-changing meals to hungry children around the world.”

Nearly half (45 per cent) of children in Zambia drop out of school early.

But attendance rates have risen thanks to Mary’s Meals which feeds 420,896 children in  752 schools across Zambia daily.

Mr Maclean said: On behalf of Mary’s Meals, thank you for your response to the Daily Express appeal. Having supported this wonderful charity for a number of years, I know your donation will help to have a life changing impact on some of the world’s poorest children and will ensure they are given energy, an education and hope for a brighter future.”

TV presenting duo Scarlette and Stuart Douglas said: “A huge thank you for your amazing response to the Express Christmas Appeal. Your donation will help to put hungry children on the path to a brighter future.”

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Donations this year will be doubled thanks to a group of generous donors.

Scottish long-distance runner Eilish McColgan said: “I’d like to thank readers for their donations to the Mary’s Meals appeal. 

“I’m really proud to support the charity, which does incredible work in serving a nutritious daily meal in school to some of the world’s poorest children. 

“Your generosity will change lives with food and education and give little

ones the gift of hope this winter.”

To donate, please visit: https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/express

Teacher Avito Banda with primary school children in Zambia [Chris Watt Photography]

Teachers have brighter future thanks to life-changing porridge from Mary’s Meals

Teachers Avito Banda and Matthews Sakala have insisted they could not have followed their dreams without the UK charity Mary’s Meals.

Matthews, 23, used to walk over six miles to Chikowa Primary School in Zambia everyday where he received a cup of fortified porridge which changed his life as a pupil.

The teacher at the school said: “I was at this school in 2015 and started benefitting from Mary’s Meals. I completed in 2017 then went to college and graduated in 2021.

“I was walking far to school and after morning sessions, we were able to eat porridge and then continue lessons in the afternoon. We were full because of the porridge. Sometimes, we’d leave home with empty stomachs but we’d arrive here and there’d be food which would help us learn very well.

“There are a lot of young people who come here and hope to be a teacher like me so I’m very happy that Mary’s Meals can help them.

“It would have been so difficult to become a teacher without Mary’s Meals because I wouldn’t eat anything. It has helped me become who I am.”

The duo told how friends at other schools who did not receive Mary’s Meals are jobless or went into farming.

Matthews, who is now able to support his parents and seven siblings, said: “Our peers who didn’t have Mary’s Meals don’t have jobs but we could stay at school for eight hours because of Mary’s Meals which changed our lives.”

Avito, who began receiving Mary’s Meals in 2016 while in grade 10, is training to be a primary school teacher at Chikowa.

The father of two, who continues to trek over four miles to the school, said: “Mary’s Meals has contributed a lot to my education. I come from a poor family so we were not getting food before school but we would arrive with the confidence that there would be food that would give us energy.

“We achieved the goals we have with the help of Mary’s Meals. It was not easy before because you could not concentrate if you did not have energy. With hunger, you cannot do anything.”

Talking about his children aged four and 19 months, said: “I want them to get educated as well, as I have been, so that they have a full, bright future.”

“This programme must continue because I can see some learners come from far and are able to learn here because of Mary’s Meals. We hope it continues so that future generations can be teachers, nurses and doctors as we are right now.”

Celebrities back Express Christmas appeal to feed thousands of children

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