Whether you’re dreading the mountainous section of the Quadrathlon, or raring to take on those seven peaks, we have a story that will fuel your footsteps more than any energy bar or sucrose shot.
On a recent visit to Malawi, Mary’s Meals founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow was invited to speak with children at a youth club in the southern town of Balaka. Every Saturday, the youngsters – from various schools receiving Mary’s Meals – come together to sing, dance, play games and perform works of charity, and he wanted to find out how a nutritious meal impacted their daily lives.
But they had other ideas in mind: “Will you join us in climbing Chaoni?”
The children had been helping a neighbouring community on a nearby mountain top, and they wanted to know if he might make the two-hour climb with them. How could he refuse?
A week later, he was 3,000 feet high and surrounded by a thousand welcoming villagers, where the village chief and local head teacher presented him with school records. They were alarming: enrolments of more than one hundred pupils in Standard One were dwindling to single figures by Standard Eight. Poverty and hunger were taking their toll, damaging the children’s health and robbing them of an education and a prosperous future.
It was now as clear as the mountain air: the youth club had brought him there to request Mary’s Meals for the community’s children.
Given the nearest road was a two-hour hike below, was it even possible? But the commitment and love of the community, along with their belief in education prompted a determined offer from the villagers, who stated: “we will carry the food to the top.”
Our Malawi team have since met with the community to agree how to deliver and monitor a school feeding programme in the school atop Chaoni. It costs just £12.20 to feed a child for a whole school year, and while Mary’s Meals is currently reaching more than 989,000 children with a daily meal in school, there are many more hungry children waiting.
So when you are doubting your ability to reach those mountaintops, or needing a push to start your training in the great outdoors, remember this: your ascending footsteps will be mirrored by the villagers climbing to the top of Chaoni, day by day, moving ever closer to a life without poverty, through education.
By reaching your peak, you are helping some of the world’s poorest begin their journey out of poverty.