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A global feeding charity founded in Dalmally is celebrating providing meals to two million hungry children every school day.
Thanks to supporters and volunteers, including its Stevenson Street charity shop in Oban, Mary’s Meals is reaching its highest number of youngsters yet in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Daily nutritious meals are feeding 2,058,099 children in 19 countries.
The landmark achievement was celebrated with an online event yesterday, Wednesday September 8, featuring highlights of celebrations from the remote desert region of Turkana, Kenya, where communities serve much-needed meals to children at Early Childhood Development centres.
Providing food in schools helps even the most vulnerable children attend classes and concentrate in lessons, giving them the freedom to learn and the chance to fulfil their potential.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, said: ‘When we set out on this path nearly 30 years ago, we were overwhelmed by people’s goodness in donating – and that’s been the story ever since. I thank you with all my heart on behalf of each of those children, for every bit of hard work, for every gift given, for all those unique things each person brings to this enormous Mary’s Meals’ table. Thank you, and please let’s keep going forward.
‘For every one of those children that ate today, many more are still waiting for Mary’s Meals to come to their school, so we go on. But this happy day shows us that this vision of ours is possible.’
The work of Mary’s Meals began almost 20 years ago in 2002 with the feeding of 200 children at a Malawian primary school. Now more than a third of the primary school population of Malawi enjoy the nutritious meals, served by volunteers who are determined to help the next generation to build a brighter future.
Mary’s Meals not only feeds huge numbers of children attending schools in Africa, but also brings daily meals to children finding hope in non-formal education centres in India; the sons and daughters of vulnerable migrant workers in Thailand; young people engaging in education while awaiting trial in prisons in Niger and Madagascar; children affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria – through feeding programmes in Aleppo and neighbouring Lebanon; and many thousands of young learners in Haiti, which has been plagued by years of political unrest and natural disasters, most recently a major earthquake.
One of those children is 11-year-old Gift who goes to Kabila Primary School in Zambia.
Before Mary’s Meals reached Gift’s school, he would often skip lessons and go scavenging for food. Now, even when there is very little to eat at home, he knows that he can rely on a nutritious mug of vitamin-enriched porridge every day at school.
When he grows up he wants to be a doctor.
The charity’s latest milestone has prompted changes to another story – the founder’s bestselling book The Shed That Fed A Million Children, which has been fully updated with a new preface, chapter and epilogue and will be published by HarperCollins on September 30.
The new material charts the journey of the last six years – since the announcement that Mary’s Meals was feeding one million children each school day and includes reflections on the way the global pandemic played out for the charity and its partners, and the communities serving the meals.
Jennie McMaster, manager of the Mary’s Meals shop in Oban, said the team of shop volunteers and herself were overjoyed with the charity’s news of getting meals to more than two million children every school day.
‘We are humbled by every kind donation we receive knowing it is making a difference to a child that needs our help. A huge thank you to the people of Argyll for all their support and to our incredible volunteers for gifting their precious time to help us change the lives of hungry children around the world,’ she said.
Go to marysmeals.org.uk