18/06/2012 13:36 BST | Updated 20/06/2012 12:38 BST

Martha Payne, NeverSeconds School Dinner Blogger, Gets Malawi Kitchen Named In Her Honour

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

Martha Payne started the NeverSeconds blog six weeks ago, posting pictures and opinions about her school lunches in daily updates.

The website has received nearly six million views and has won the support of celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn.

On Friday, Martha was told by Argyll and Bute Council that she could no longer take photos to illustrate her blog as media coverage had apparently left catering staff fearing for their jobs.

However, the council back-tracked on its decision after a barrage of negative publicity in the media and on social networking sites.

The controversial ban led to thousands of donations flooding in to Martha's JustGiving site, which she 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 far surpassed her £7,000 fundraising target, with her total rocketing 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 its 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 it can achieve so much with so very little."

Mary's Meals said a further 5,800 of the world's poorest children will also start receiving meals because of the funds raised, and the number keeps increasing as donations come in.

Pupils at Lirangwe primary today sent a message of thanks to Martha, by writing on a blackboard: "Thank you Martha and your friends".

In Malawi, Mary's Meals provides children with a daily mug of likuni phala, a nutritious type of porridge supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals.

Gilbert Chigomere, a nine-year-old pupil at Lirangwe, is orphaned and lives on the streets, the charity said.

He told Mary's Meals: "Please say hello to Martha for me. I want to thank her for all of her hard work.

"I like the porridge because, after I eat it, I am active and can concentrate in class. It really helps me because it takes me a while to get hungry again."

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

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. We feel extremely proud of them.

"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.

"For every £10.70 donated, we are able to ensure another child will get a good daily meal for a whole school year.

"Many schools on waiting lists for Mary's Meals will soon get very good news.

"We refuse to accept that any child in this world of plenty must endure a day without a meal and it is so heartening to realise that so many people around the world share that vision."


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