Mary’s Meals encourages pupils to donate their old school bags to children in Malawi

Global school feeding charity Mary’s Meals is encouraging families in West Lothian to ‘buddy up’ for the latest drive of its Backpack Project to improve the lives of hungry children in Malawi.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 1:00 pm
A child at a school in Malawi excitedly holds a bag from The Mary’s Meals Backpack Project.
A child at a school in Malawi excitedly holds a bag from The Mary’s Meals Backpack Project.

As schools across Scotland close for the summer holidays, Mary’s Meals is calling on parents and children to team up with other families to fill pre-loved backpacks which will be gifted to school children in the African country.

The old school bags can be recycled and filled with useful educational items, such as pencils and notepads, or clothing, soap and toothpaste. Visit www.marysmeals.org.uk/backpack or call 0800 698 1212 for more information.

These donated backpacks are then sent to Malawi to help children receiving a daily meal in school from Mary’s Meals get the most out of their learning. Many of these children do not have basic items for school such as pencils and notepads and the backpacks are often the only gift they have ever received.

Since the project began in 2002, more than 500,000 of these school bags have been donated by people across the UK.

Donated backpacks and individual items can be dropped off at any one of the charity’s shops in Scotland and also its warehouse in Glasgow. Where this is not possible, the charity can arrange for a minimum of five filled bags, in good condition, to be collected.

Head of grassroots engagement at Mary’s Meals, Emma Hutton, said: “Rather than throwing away school backpacks at the end of the school term, these items can be put to great use by Mary’s Meals at schools in Malawi. Bags filled with essentials give children there a chance to get the most out of their education.

“It is wonderful to see the immense joy which these bags bring to every child who receives one. This is an exciting project for families in West Lothian to get involved in over the summer months as their support will allow us to continue spreading that joy among children receiving Mary’s Meals.”

A donated backpack can be filled with the following items: notepads, pencils, pens, crayons, eraser, sharpener, ruler, pencil case, towel, shorts or skirt, t-shirt or dress, flip-flops or sandals, small ball like a tennis ball, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and a spoon. Families are requested not to add any additional items to the backpacks.

The Backpack Project is helping children like Lagia (13) at Ngabu Primary School in Malawi to learn.

She said: “I am so happy because I have received a backpack. Inside, I found a dress, pens and a hardcover book. I will use the bag every day to carry pens, and books when I am coming to school.”

Mary’s Meals – founded in Argyll in 2002 – has grown from feeding 200 children in Malawi, to now reaching more than 1.8 million around the world in 19 countries. The promise of a daily meal in school attracts impoverished children to the classroom, where they can gain an education that will one day be their ladder out of poverty.