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Dalmally-based charity Mary’s Meals has expanded its school feeding programme into Syria to help long-suffering children rebuild their lives following years of brutal civil war.
The school feeding charity, in partnership with the Dutch organisation Dorcas, is working in six schools in Aleppo, providing nearly 1,500 children in Syria with a daily meal in their place of education.
In a country where 1.7 million children are out of school and 69 per cent of the population are living in extreme poverty, the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme is designed to encourage children – who have endured unimaginable trauma – into the classroom where they can receive a nutritious meal and an education.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals’ founder and chief executive, said: ‘After a four-year battle for Aleppo and tens of thousands of deaths, the siege – at least for now – is over. At last, children have the chance to start regaining their lost childhoods.
‘Through Mary’s Meals, both the immediate, desperate needs of today and the longer term necessity of education will be nourished and nurtured through each meal served by local volunteers. The promise of this simple meal, made possible by the continuing love and generosity of Mary’s Meals supporters all over the world, will provide hope and encouragement to communities taking their first tentative steps on a very long and uncertain road to recovery.’
The expansion into Syria follows the charity’s pilot programme in Lebanon where, alongside its regional partner Dorcas, Mary’s Meals began providing daily meals to Syrian refugee children and their Lebanese classmates in a school near the capital, Beirut, last year.
Lebanon is hosting 1.5 million refugees from Syria; two-thirds of the refugee children are not in school and 74 per cent of refugee families are food insecure.
With Lebanese and Syrian mothers volunteering side by side to implement the school feeding, the programme has been extended to reach children at the Bourj el-Barajneh refugee settlement in the southern outskirts of Beirut, bringing the total number of children benefiting from Mary’s Meals in Lebanon to 1,430.
Mary’s Meals’ provides daily meals to more than 1.1 million children every day they attend school.