Aid charity will provide 1,500 school children with meals
Mary’s Meals is to expand its school feeding programme to Aleppo, one of the world’s most dangerous cities.
The Argyll-based charity is to work in partnership with Dutch organisation Dorcas in six Aleppo schools to provide 1,500 children with a daily meal.
Mary’s Meals school feeding programme is designed to encourage children – who for a large part of their young lives have endured unimaginable trauma – into the classroom where they can receive a nutritious meal and an all-important education.
Some 1.7 million children are out of school in Syria while 69% of the population are living in extreme poverty.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals’ founder and chief executive, said: “After a four-year long 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 expansion into Syria follows the charity’s pilot programme in Lebanon where, alongside 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% 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.
MacFarlane-Barrow added: “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.”