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This year marks the 12th time that the Lahash community has set aside March as Rice & Beans Month. By God’s grace, some of the children who were among the first to benefit from our collective efforts are nearly young adults! This month, we are taking some time to reflect on the obstacles these kids have overcome, and to look forward with excitement at their bright future ahead. Let’s start with Mariam…

When the staff of Grace & Healing Ministry in Tanzania first met Mariam, she was a happy kid but weak and quite small for her age. Mariam was born with HIV, and her mother had died in childbirth. Her father suffered from the disease as well, struggling to maintain his own health and provide for their needs. Mariam was on her own a lot, and the combination of HIV and malnutrition took its toll. Grace & Healing Ministry accepted her into the Lahash Sponsorship Program in 2011. Shortly thereafter, they used Rice & Beans Month donations to launch a Nutrition Program specifically for HIV-positive kids like Mariam, knowing that their lives would be cut short without extra nutritional support. Mariam is still in that program today! It has made a huge difference in her growth and in her body’s ability to tolerate the vital medicines that prevent HIV from destroying her health.

Tiny Mariam stands at the front of the line to receive a heaping plate of nutritious food. (2012)

Rice & Beans Month donations also helped to purchase a local plot of land and develop a large garden and poultry project. Now, the extra food Mariam receives for meals at home often includes eggs! When the pandemic arrived and eliminated her father’s cleaning job, the two of them were in precarious circumstances. But thanks to Rice & Beans Month and the Lahash Covid Relief Fund, their needs were provided. Mariam has stayed healthy and strong enough to keep up on schoolwork and chores, and still have energy to dance, rehearse, and worship with the church gospel choir every chance she gets.

Rice & Beans Month funded a poultry project that provides eggs to Mariam and other vulnerable kids. (2020)

Ten years ago, Mariam’s chances of survival were slim. But people like you accepted an invitation to “change your diet to help change theirs.” Because they simplified their meals during Rice & Beans Month and shared their grocery savings, that tiny little girl is now in high school with dreams of becoming a doctor and helping other kids with health issues like her. For Mariam and her friends, we can see that the gifts of health and hope are changing far more than just diets! By God’s grace, our simple meals and donated grocery savings are changing the course of their lives.

Watch the video “More Than A Meal” to see Mariam when she was little!

Click here to donate and help provide increased nutrition for Mariam and other kids across East Africa.
Thank you!