Malawi school kitchen will honor 9-year-old lunch blogger

A school kitchen being built in Malawi is to be named in honour of a nine-year-old blogger who has raised £85,000 for charity.

Martha Payne started the NeverSeconds blog six weeks ago, posting daily pictures of, and opinions about, her school lunches…On Friday Martha was told by Argyll and Bute council to stop taking photos for her blog as media coverage had apparently left catering staff fearing for their jobs. But the council reversed its decision after a barrage of negative publicity in the media and on social networking sites.

The ban led to thousands of donations flooding in to Martha’s JustGiving site, which she had set up to raise money for Mary’s Meals. The charity runs school feeding projects in communities around the world where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education.

Martha’s fundraising total rocketed from £3,000 to almost £85,000 in just four days. It means a kitchen will be built at Lirangwe primary school in Blantyre, Malawi, and all 1,963 of the pupils will be fed for a whole year, as part of the charity’s Sponsor a School initiative.

Martha has chosen to name the kitchen Friends of NeverSeconds, in recognition of the worldwide support she has received.

She said: “It’s really good because it can feed lots of children for a long time.

“Calling the kitchen Friends of NeverSeconds is important as it’s a thank you to everyone who has supported me and Mary’s Meals. Mary’s Meals is a very simple charity and can achieve so much with so very little…”

The charity said it costs on average £10.70 to feed a child for an entire school year in Malawi.

It provides a daily meal to more than 650,000 youngsters every school day in 16 of the world’s poorest countries, including Malawi, Liberia, Kenya, India and Haiti.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder and chief executive of Mary’s Meals, said: “I am humbled by Martha and her friends…”Because of what they are doing, and all those generous people who are donating, the lives of thousands of the world’s poorest children will be transformed.

I can only second that emotion. While I’ve spent a significant portion of my life encouraging folks to take those few steps forward into activism needed to really change our society into something more useful than a machine for producing profit for damned few – I have to recognize the many simple charities which achieve very much with very little.

Mary’s Meals is one of those. Martha Payne is one of those valuable children who lives her young life by a standard few ever really get round to embracing. She’s worth her weight in happiness.

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