Mary's Meals

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Mary's Meals
Mary's Meals Logo
Founded 1992 (SIR) 2002 (Mary's Meals)
Focus School Feeding
Location
Area served
Developing World
Slogan A simple solution to world hunger
Mission To give every child one school meal a day
Website www.marysmeals.org

Mary's Meals is a registered charity, formerly known as Scottish International Relief (SIR), which sets up school feeding programmes in some of the world's poorest communities, where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education.[1] It was founded in 2002 and has grown from its first feeding operation of 200 children in Malawi, to a worldwide campaign, providing free school meals in hundreds of schools and feeding more than one million [2] children daily. Mary’s Meals is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, by its founders, who were inspired by their Catholic faith, although the charity is not a Catholic organisation.[3]

History

SIR began in 1992 during the Balkan conflict, when Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow organised a local appeal for blankets and food. They filled a Jeep with aid and delivered their cargo to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The brothers, aged 25 and 27, returned to Scotland expecting to resume work as fish farmers, but in their absence their parents’ shed had been filled with yet more donations.

Magnus took a ‘gap year’, to deliver the aid for as long as it was needed, and has never gone back to his old job. The donations didn’t stop – they still haven’t – so the project was registered as a charity, then named as Scottish International Relief.

During a trip to Malawi in 2002, Magnus met a family whose predicament was to spark a change in not only his own life, but in the lives of millions of others.

Lying on the floor of a hut was a mother named Emma, who was dying of AIDS. Her six children were gathered around her and Magnus asked the eldest son, Edward, what it was that he hoped for in life. “To have enough to eat and to go to school one day,” was his answer.

Edward’s words inspired a mission to attract girls and boys to school by providing Mary’s Meals. One step at a time, through Mary’s Meals, Magnus has let children all over the world know they matter.

From feeding just 200 children in southern Malawi in 2002, the charity now works with communities in 12 different countries around the world, proving a meal for 1,187,104 children every school day.

Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £13.90/€15.60/$19.50.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

The original shed in Dalmally used to store aid during the Balkan conflict, now Magnus's office

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, OBE, is founder and chief executive of Mary’s Meals, a global hunger charity which in 2015, reached the milestone of providing a daily meal in a place of education for more than one million of the world’s poorest children. The daily meal attracts children to the classroom, where they can gain the basic education that could be their route out of poverty.

In 2010, Magnus was praised as a CNN hero for his role in founding and running Mary's Meals, and in April 2015, he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. Magnus’ book, The Shed That Fed A Million Children, reached the UK’s prestigious Times and Sunday Times bestseller list immediately after its release. Magnus has also received honorary degrees from the University of Hull, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Stirling and the University of Edinburgh.

Magnus has given many public talks to audiences large and small, including delivering the key note address at the World Food Prize in 2013. He has also spoken at youth festivals and Christian conferences and other speaker events geared at a variety of audiences including entrepreneurs, food industry experts and educators.

Magnus started his career as a fish farmer in Argyll, Scotland. In 1992 during the Balkan conflict, he and his brother Fergus were so moved by scenes of the conflict on television that they took a week’s leave from their jobs, loaded a jeep with aid and joined a convoy travelling to Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to distribute it.

On their return, donations continued to flood in, resulting in Magnus eventually driving from Scotland to Bosnia a total of 23 times to deliver vital supplies. Magnus never returned to his old job and instead set up a registered charity, named Scottish International Relief (SIR).

Soon after, Magnus met Julie, a nurse, who volunteered to help him deliver emergency aid. Julie became committed to the charity, and its founder too. The couple married and now have seven children together.

During a trip to Malawi in 2002, Magnus met a family whose predicament was to spark a change in not only his own life, but in the lives of thousands of others.

Lying on the floor of a hut was a mother named Emma, who was dying of AIDS. Her six children were gathered around her and Magnus asked the eldest son, Edward, what it was that he hoped for in life. “To have enough to eat and to go to school one day,” was his answer.

Edward’s words inspired a mission to attract girls and boys to school by providing Mary’s Meals. One step at a time, through Mary’s Meals, Magnus has let children all over the world know they matter.

From feeding just 200 children in southern Malawi in 2002, the charity now works with communities in 12 different countries around the world, proving a meal for 1,187,104 children every school day.

Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £13.90/€15.60/$19.50.

Support for Mary’s Meals is global, with fundraising groups in Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, UK and USA.

Mary's Meals

Mary's Meals Haiti by Angela Catlin

Mary's Meals is a global movement which sets up school feeding programmes in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education. Mary's Meals provides daily meals in school for more than one million children in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £13.90/€15.60/$19.50.

Support for Mary’s Meals is global, with fundraising groups in Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, UK and USA.

Malawi

Volunteers preparing the Likuni Phala

Mary's Meals Malawi is by far Mary's Meals' largest school feeding programme. It reaches 880,383 children in the country. This is due to good links with local farmers and the "army" of volunteers that make Mary's Meals happen in Malawi. This immense logistical operation is only possible thanks to more than 80,000 volunteers sacrificing their time to prepare and serve Mary's Meals for the children.

A child scrapes a bowl of Likuni Phala clean

Mary's Meals tries to work closely with local communities when establishing a school feeding project. Everyone – teachers, parents, community leaders – is involved in the process. Usually land is donated in order to build a kitchen adjacent to the school. Teachers and parents organise a pool of volunteers who will take their turn cooking and serving the meals.

Mary's Meals provides the kitchen, cooking equipment, training, ongoing support and of course, regular supplies of nutritious[4] Likuni Phala. Each project is visited regularly by Mary's Meals' staff to support the volunteers and ensure the smooth running of the programme. They also collect data from the school to monitor the impact school feeding is having on the students.

The Backpack Project

Backpacks at Chisebe Primary School, Malawi

One of Mary's Meals' most high profile projects is The Backpack Project, which encourages supporters to donate school backpacks and fill them with materials such as notebooks, pencils, flip-flops and t-shirts to send to children in Malawi. The Backpack Project was the subject of recent TV coverage through Five's Britain's Kindest Kids[permanent dead link] competition, and an STV feature on Holyrood Secondary School pupils' visit to Malawi.

Emergency Aid

Today, the main focus of Mary's Meals is its school feeding programmes, but it also has a history of providing emergency relief to many countries, such as Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Somalia

During the 2011 East Africa drought, Mary's Meals launched a public appeal for funds to help people suffering as a result of the famine in Somalia which, at its height, was estimated by the UN to be claiming the lives of 250 children every day. Joining forces with South African charity Gift of the Givers, Mary's Meals has sent hundreds of tonnes of likuni phala – the same nutritional maize-based porridge that it feeds to children at Mary's Meals school feeding programmes in Malawi – to the Somali capital Mogadishu. As of April 2012, food from Mary's Meals – cooked and served in feeding camps by Gift of the Givers - has amounted to 6.8 million meals.[5]

Haiti

Cité Soleil, Haiti. Prior to the earthquake this slum built on a rubbish dump was home to 500,000
Cité Soleil. Mary's Meals fed 6000 primary school children here before the earthquake, the rebuilding process is well under way.

On January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Haiti at around 5pm local time. The quake killed an estimated 200,000 people,[6] left thousands more homeless and devastated the capital Port-au-Prince. Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Americas before this disaster which was why Mary's Meals was working there. Mary's Meals partners in Port-au-Prince were in the midst of the disaster and sadly members of their team were killed and their office buildings destroyed. In nearby Cité Soleil the 8 schools served by Mary's Meals were badly damaged. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow visited Haiti a few days later and once more in July 2010. He reported progress in the massive rebuilding projects underway but expressed that with the amount of money being donated not enough was being done by the charities working in Haiti.

Burma

Cyclone Nargis left thousands dead and thousands more homeless with their livelihoods ruined. Mary's Meals already had partners in Burma and their long experience of working in the particularly difficult conditions within Burma meant they were able to gain access to areas badly affected by the floods. As a result, Mary's Meals were able to run several relief and rehabilitation projects. Among them are: the provision of food, clean water and clothing, the rebuilding of 3 schools destroyed by the storms and an orphanage that will provide care for abandoned children.

Bangladesh

In November 2007 a cyclone caused waves 10 to 15 feet in height that swept away the fragile houses of the poor in Borguna, Bangladesh. Relief materials were distributed. The community appealed to Mary's Meals for assistance and soon they were providing help to rebuild a collapsed secondary school in Borguna. The reconstructed building was designed to double up as cyclone shelter to protect people from the community from storms in the future.

Iona House

Casa Bannatyne opens named after the principal backer - Duncan Bannatyne
A 13-year-old Romanian Orphan - Pic by Angela Catlin

Some of SIR's first projects after the Balkan conflict were with the orphans of Eastern Europe - particularly Romania. Here it built and maintained homes for abandoned children many of whom were orphaned by the AIDs epidemic. The first such house was called Iona House - named after the Hebridean Island where one of SIR's support groups was based. The orphans were moved from cots in hospitals which they had never left and taken to the house. When they arrived some of them, as old as 7, were so starved of care that they had never even learned to walk, having never been taken out of their cots.[7] The children are now young adults but the homes continue to provide them with the support they need. Mary's Meals operate two other similar homes in Romania.

The Sponsor A School campaign is another successful project carried out by Mary's Meals. Sponsor A School involves an individual or group meeting the costs of feeding children at any given school. The campaign runs in Malawi and Liberia. All those who sponsor a school have a plaque featuring text of their choice erected at the school and a document giving the school's profile.[8]

Sustainability

Mary's Meals buys locally sourced food – which helps boost local economies – and provides it in a sustainable way with a view of the overall development of the countries it works in. Whole generations of children are receiving an education they would otherwise never have had. This is the source of the charity's sustainability; it is creating a whole new skilled and educated young population in developing countries that can only benefit the country's economy and help break the poverty cycle. Mary's Meals takes a long-term view, but all its projects are aimed at eventual self-sufficiency in the communities in which it operates.

Fundraising

A Mary's Meals charity shop

Although Mary's Meals is an international charity, it is still the UK in which the charity has the largest infrastructure of supporters in place. Support groups meet and hold events in many towns and cities in the UK. Parishes and businesses have adopted the charity in many areas. Mary's Meals also has several charity shops in various UK locations. In the last few years Mary's Meals has sought to extend its support beyond the borders of the UK. Mary's Meals now have supporter bases in America, Australia, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Ireland, Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina.[9] These bases raise money and awareness for the charity in their areas. Some take part in The Backpack Project and all fundraise for Mary's Meals.

Growing Awareness

On 12 August 2010, Mary's Meals' chief executive, Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow, was praised as a CNN Hero[10] for his role in founding and running Mary's Meals. A video detailing his work with Mary's Meals was broadcast across the USA and online, reaching millions of viewers and further promoting the work of Mary's Meals. In April 2015, Magnus was also named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, taking a place alongside luminaries such as Charles and David Koch, Pope Francis, and General Martin Dempsey.

NeverSeconds

In 2011, some primary school children from Argyll started a club called Charity Children and raised £70 for Mary's Meals. One of them, Martha Payne, went on to create a JustGiving page on 1 June 2012 linked to her blog, NeverSeconds, about school meals. Her aim was to raise enough to buy a kitchen for Mary's Meals (£7000), and she put in £50 that a magazine had paid for use of her pictures. After Argyll and Bute Council tried to stop Martha taking pictures of her food, worldwide media coverage brought millions of new visitors to her blog, and contributions of more than £108,000 in less than a month. The kitchen in Blantyre, Malawi which this money paid for is called 'Friends of NeverSeconds' at Martha's request.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/about/how-marys-meals-works[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Mary's Meals celebrates feeding ONE MILLION children every school day - Mary's Meals". Mary's Meals. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  3. ^ Charity head named CNN ‘Top Ten Hero’ finds inspiration in papal encyclical Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. Global Catholic Network News, 25 September 2010
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-26. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  5. ^ http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/resources/e-newsletter/the-latest-from-east-africa[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ 2010 haiti earthquake#cite note-3
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-16. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  8. ^ http://www.marysmeals.org/Fundraising/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/20-Facts-About-Marys-Meals1.pdf[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ http://www.marysmeals.org/Fundraising/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/20-Facts-About-Marys-Meals1.pdf[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "CNN Heroes 2010". CNN. 

External links

  • Mary's Meals Official Site
  • Craig Lodge Official Site
  • Medjugorje Official Site
  • CNN Heroes 2010
  • Profile in the Daily Record—Samantha Booth (6 Jun 2008). "Small Scottish charity could make big difference to African poverty, says Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne". 
  • Feeding the world form a garden shed -The Daily Telegraph
  • Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland
  • Article about Liberia in The Telegraph Christmas Appeal 2008
  • The Telegraph Christmas Appeal 2008
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