Malawi may look like a small country, but last week I drove the length of it and realised just how big it actually is!
The country is split into three regions; northern, central and southern. Mary's Meals provides one daily meal in a place of education in all three regions, reaching over 660,000 children every school day.
Until now I'd spend all my time here in the southern region, where our Head Office is based and close to many of the schools we operate in, but I thought it was about time I explored the rest of the country and visited some of the further away schools up north.
The north of Malawi is beautiful - a picturesque postcard setting, striking a similar resemblance to the west coast of Scotland. Tall, green trees, winding roads, and incredible views over Lake Malawi reminded me a lot of the shores of Loch Lomond, apart from the contrasting temperatures!
I visited a lot of schools in Mzuzu and Karonga and was able to speak to the teachers about how much Mary's Meals has changed not only the lives of the children, but also the local communities. In one school, the community volunteers were so proud of their kitchen, they raised enough money to re-paint it and keep it looking new. In another school, the Head Teacher told me how the local villages had come together to organise a rota for cooking the likuni phala each school morning, which united the community.
One of the highlights of my trip up north was when we visited one particular school to deliver the exciting news that they will soon be receiving Mary's Meals. The Head Teacher was thrilled that, very soon, every child in his school would be receiving a cup of likuni phala every school day.
I remember eating school meals in primary school in Scotland and not realising how lucky I was to have them. When I visited that school to tell them the news that Mary's Meals is coming, it really hit me how such a simple thing could have such a positive impact on the lives of so many people.
Providing one school meal in a place of education doesn't just have a profound effect on the children who receive the porridge, it also benefits the teachers, families, and communities in the surrounding area, as I've seen first-hand on this trip.