Children who received Mary’s Meals at school in Malawi win a gold medal at the Special Olympic World Games
A boy and girl who received Mary’s Meals at school in Malawi have won the gold medal in mixed doubles tennis at the Special Olympic World Games.
Hannah Winesi and Patrick Sichamba, who both have additional needs, are celebrating after lifting the coveted award in a match against a team from Bulgaria.
Patrick, 16, also hopes to make it to the final of the singles competition on Sunday, after winning three qualifying matches.
Mary’s Meals feeds children living in some of the world’s poorest countries. The promise of a nutritious school meal attracts hungry children into the classroom, where they can gain an education and hope for a better future.
In Malawi, where a third of all primary school-age children eat Mary’s Meals, the charity serves a maize and soya porridge, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. This is known locally as ‘likuni phala’.
Patrick says: “I was able to train relentlessly because the phala I received every day from Mary’s Meals gave me energy.
“My dad passed away when I was really little. But I think my mum is pretty proud of me, and so is my teacher. I played tennis with him for the first time.
“Tennis has changed my life. Without tennis, I would never have known that I could do anything really well. And I probably never would have gotten on an airplane in my life!”
Mary’s Meals began by feeding just 200 children in Malawi in 2002. The charity now reaches more than 2.4 million children every school day in 18 of the world’s poorest countries.
Karen Gray, Director of Communications at Mary’s Meals, says: “Our life-changing meals attract desperately hungry children into the classroom where they can gain an education and – in the case of Hannah and Patrick – discover an Olympic talent for tennis!
“We are only able to feed 2.4 million little ones every school day because of the kindness of people across the UK who support our work.
“On behalf of the Mary’s Meals family, I would like to say a huge congratulations to these inspirational young people – and good luck to Patrick for Sunday!”
The Special Olympic World Games, currently taking place in Berlin, is the world’s largest inclusive sports event, with around 7,000 athletes from 190 countries competing in 26 sports.
Enid Mauluka, National Director Special Olympics Malawi, says: “For Patrick, if he can’t be in the classroom, then he can’t be on the playing field. Children are not motivated in sports or even in school unless there is a meal, because if you’re hungry you have no energy to participate. So, for that reason the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme has made a big difference.”
It costs just £19.15 to feed a hungry child with Mary’s Meals every day for a school year. To find out more, please visit marysmeals.org.uk