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ex t ra e-magazine for mary’s meals supporters Issue no 9- March 2011

A Milestone for Mary’s Meals!

welcome Welcome to the spring issue of Mary’s Meals Extra, our quarterly e-bulletin designed for supporters who would like regular news updates from Mary’s Meals. It is aimed particularly at those who fundraise and spread the word about our work. Please feel free to photocopy, use or republish any of the contents if you think they would be useful to spread the word about Mary’s Meals.

Contents Key figures Annie Lennox in Malawi 500,000 children Backpack Adventure Liberia Q & A India’s Railway Children Sue Perkins causes a stir! Fundraising News Ten Ways to Help Online

You can also keep up to date with our news and updates by signing up to our Facebook and Twitter pages at and and our website In this issue We have recently celebrated the fact that Mary’s Meals is feeding more than 500,000 children. This has only been made possible through your continued support – thank you! You can read more about this and see some of the images showing children around the world celebrating this fantastic moment. For an update on the number of children we are feeding in 16 different countries, please have a look at our key figures on page 2. In this issue, you can read about how a couple’s journey from Germany brought huge smiles to the faces of so many children in Liberia, and for the couple Ursula and KarlHeinz Schwarz, gave them lasting memories. For more insight into daily life in Liberia, you can read an interview with Emma Turner, Mary’s Meals Programme Officer. We were delighted to have international celebrity Annie Lennox recently visit our school feeding project in Malawi. Farhanna Ismail, our communications officer in Malawi, who met Annie and showed her around our project, talks about what it was like rubbing shoulders with a super star and the impact our project had on Annie. Thank you again for your continued support and please keep your stories and pictures coming! We would love to hear what you have been up to at

Mary’s Meals Communication Team

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Total number of children receiving a daily meal in school = 526,539

Key Figures

Average cost of Mary’s Meals per child per year = £9.40 / €11 / $15 Cost of Mary’s Meals per child, per year in Malawi = £6.15/€7.20/$10 Worldwide cost per meal = 4 pence / 5 cents (Euros) and 6.5 cents (US) Cost per meal in Malawi = 3 pence / 3.5 cents (Euros) and 5 cents (US) Number of backpacks sent overseas in 2011 = 16,433

Number of children receiving a daily meal in their place of education in 2011 Albania - 356 Bosnia - 24 Burma - 338 Ecuador - 187 Haiti – 15,009 India – 3,893 Kenya – 18,129 Liberia – 27,225 Malawi - 450,783 Philippines – 2,000 Romania - 31 Sudan – 3,416 Thailand - 642 Uganda – 3,651 Ukraine - 445 Zambia - 410

total = 526,539

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Project News

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“Mary’s Meals is making a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in Malawi. The cup of porridge the charity supplies not only encourages children to attend school, it also provides enough nutrition to help them focus in class. I was encouraged and impressed by what I saw.” Annie Lennox in Malawi

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Tea and Mary’s Meals with Annie Lennox By Farhanna Ismail, Mary’s Meals Communications Officer in Malawi When we heard the international star Annie Lennox was visiting our Mary’s Meals projects here in Malawi, the office was extremely excited. It’s not an everyday occurrence for high profile celebrities to visit Malawi and our Mary’s Meals offices, so this was a real treat. We started planning almost immediately. The plan was to provide Annie - yes I’m saying Annie because I did spend a fair bit of time with her - with some background on Mary’s Meals and a presentation, followed by a visit to Phuti school in Lilongwe. It’s quite true when they say the best laid plans always fall apart. As country director Joe Gribben and I were driving down from Blantyre to Lilongwe, we received a text message to say that the schedule had been changed. As soon as we arrived into Lilongwe, we rushed to The Sunbird hotel for a meeting. We found the group secluded in an alcove listening raptly as Abeer MacIntyre, Mary's Meals Head of Supporter Care, introduced Mary's Meals. It was a more welcoming and less intimidating way to first meet Annie Lennox and the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Alex Ferguson. Over tea we all enjoyed a leisurely chat and discussed how our programme works in Malawi. Annie Lennox was very friendly and approachable and very keen to hear about Mary’s Meals. One aspect that she was

particularly impressed with was that we were not a charity that simply asked people to place their hands in their pocket for money. Instead, supporters can help the Mary’s Meals movement in a variety of ways including donations, prayer, time and skills. The next morning, we met the group again and they followed us to the school. This was Annie Lennox and the Presiding Officer’s first trip to Malawi and they were quite eager to see the ‘real’ Malawi. We followed a dusty, rocky, bumpy road for 25 minutes, passing some villages, lots of maize fields and mango trees. When we approached the school, Annie jumped out and was met with a warm welcome from our volunteers in truly Malawian style. She eagerly joined in to sway along with the singing and dancing volunteers. Once this welcome was over, Annie met with Mary’s Meals Malawi staff member Peter Mawere who gave her a guided tour of our feeding programme. We had arrived at the school at just the right moment. The children were waiting to be given their cups of likuni phala. After the volunteers had shown Annie how they filled the children’s cups, she helped dish out the porridge. She also joined in and sang with the volunteers. She laughingly learnt the Chichewa words the women were singing.

Annie Lennox with Mary’s Meals Volunteers in Malawi mary’s meals extra

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Annie was quite dismayed when the line of children of ended and she had no more children to dish out porridge for with a startled ‘oh where did the children go!’ On trying the porridge herself, she approved and commented “it just needs some more salt”. The Presiding Officer said the exact same thing and we concluded it must be a Scottish thing! After the younger children had been served, it was time to interact with the older children who were still in class. The Presiding Officer and Annie Lennox had a treat for the children - they had brought letters from St Mirin's School in Glasgow. The children were ecstatic to receive them and were looking forward to replying. Annie and the Presiding Officer listened to them read their letters aloud. Annie also talked to the class and asked them what they thought about the programme and what they liked. Students talked about the benefits of the likuni phala and the lovely gift of the back packs. Before we knew it class was over and it was time to meet the 47 village heads who had come to show their respect and meet the guests who had honoured them by choosing to visit Phuti School.

Above - Annie with pupils from St Mirin’s School in Glasgow Below - Annie with Mary’s Meals volunteers and Presiding Officer, Alex Ferguson

After a two hour visit our guests had to leave. With the children and the volunteers surrounding them we all walked to their cars. To remember their time with Mary’s Meals in Malawi, I handed them the Mary’s Meals cloth and T-shirt, then we waved them off. It was a memorable day for the school and the Mary’s Meals members of staff. It’s a great experience to hear about Mary’s Meals from another person’s perspective and to see that it really does work every single time.

Annie tells the Scottish Parliament about Mary's Meals Just weeks after her trip to Malawi, Annie Lennox visited the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to tell MSPs about her visit to Malawi and her experience of Mary's Meals. “Mary’s Meals is making a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in Malawi," she said. "The cup of porridge the charity supplies not only encourages children to attend school, it also provides enough nutrition to help them focus in class. I was encouraged and impressed by what I saw there.” Annie accompanied Alex Fergusson, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, on the visit and made a video report about her trip, which you can see online at

Still from the short film about Annie Lennox in Malawi

Children from St Mirin's Primary School in Glasgow came to parliament to meet Annie, and she gave them letters that she had brought back for them from children at Phuti School, the Mary's Meals project she visited in Lilongwe. mary’s meals extra

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Mary's Meals

feeding 500,000 + In February, we announced that Mary's Meals is feeding more than half a million children. As you can see from the Key Figures page of Mary's Meals Extra, that figure is now 526,539. We hope that, with your help and support, that figure will keep going up for as long as school feeding programmes are needed. We shared our news with children who receive Mary's Meals in our project countries, and challenged them to take photos of themselves marking the milestone. You can see their efforts and those of children in the UK - in these pictures and in our new 'Feeding 500,000' poster which is on display in our shops and offices. We were also pleased to see recognition of the figure across the media, including on CNN and in The Telegraph and on BBC Online. You can read some of the coverage at the links below. The Telegraph - Telegraph campaign helps feed Haitian children

Above - Children from Uganda and Romania celebrate Below - Children in Malawi holding sign for 500,000

BBC Online - Charity feeding 500000 children CNN - Mary's Meals reaches milestone The Herald - Charity is feeding 500,000

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COUPLE’S UNFORGETTABLE BACKPACK ADVENTURE Ursula and Karl-Heinz Ofer reflect on their visit to Liberia where they helped to spread joy among pupils by delivering backpacks they were involved in collecting in Germany.

Our journey to Liberia came about after Ursula Schwarz in Mainz, a friend of our daughter, was looking for helpers for Mary’s Meals Backpack Project. The request came at exactly the right moment for myself and husband Karl-Heinz. Karl-Heinz had just retired from business and was looking for a new challenge. As a former teacher, I immediately agreed to help collecting backpacks for Africa. It wasn’t long before our desire to get more involved grew. We wanted to witness the backpacks arriving for the African children. We wanted to be able to answer the questions of German people concerning contents and delivery of the donated backpacks. ‘Why don’t we go there?’, we thought. Our adventure began. We reached Mary’s Meals compound at Tubmanburg on the 1st of December 2010 in the middle of the night and were welcomed by Mary’s Meals staff who took us on a three hour drive in the dark. Next morning we were allowed to go along with the backpacks to two schools, which is what we had been waiting for. We found ourselves sitting beside the chief driver Abraham in a 20-year-old pick up driving along a road which would have been forbidden in Germany. Finally we reached a small village with a school and a few children outside. When they saw our truck carrying big white sacks, they ran into the schoolhouse, screaming with excitement and then we heard unbelievable cries of joy coming from the building. When we got closer, the teachers came out and the children became silent, looking at us with big eyes full of anticipation. After being welcomed by the Principal we were guided into every classroom and the local director of Mary’s Meals introduced us. He requested the children to come to school every day and to learn, learn, learn - perhaps to become president of Liberia one day (!) - and to please those German people, who gave them the backpacks as a gift. I said some sentences in English and asked the children if they would sing a song for us. They did, and we enjoyed their song full of joy, faith and liveliness. We made them laugh and clap hands by singing “Ya ya yippie yippie yeh…”by ourselves. After that the big white sacks were brought in and opened and we started to hand the backpacks out to the children. We will never forget the faces of the children when they got a backpack – they looked at us with eyes wide open as if they couldn’t believe what happened to them. And a smile appeared. mary’s meals extra

When everybody was provided with a backpack the teacher asked them to raise their bags and say “Thank you” to the visitors and to Mary’s Meals. They did so as loud as they could. The teachers then took our hands and told us: “Please tell German people that we are very, very grateful and that the backpacks are very important for us and that we appreciate everything inside!” And that this day would be a little bit like Christmas. For that day the lessons were finished. In the schoolyard we watched some children looking into their bags, and when they noticed us they beamed with joy. Some came over to shake hands with us and say ‘thank you’. Next step was a visit to the ‘kitchen’ where three mothers prepared the meals. This was an open hut with two fireplaces made of three big stones and two big pots . We were allowed to look into them and admire the rice and the soup made with okra and green potato leaves. Small bowls waited for the children, and now we understood how important the tablespoons are in the backpacks. The staff of Mary’s Meals in Liberia is doing very good work. They don’t just distribute the backpacks, they also bring rice and other food to 112 schools every month. They have to pass roads which seem impassable. Both men and cars have to give maximum power. We also visited Oscar Romero School for deaf children which is part of the Mary’s Meals compound at Tubmanburg. We are sure that those 65 boys and girls would have no future without the help of Mary’s Meals.Now they learn how to read and to write and to use sign language. They enjoyed our visit and laughed a lot looking at the pictures of our grandchildren I showed to them. We attended their morning prayer on our last day and we were moved to tears watching a girl praying for us in sign language! Pinky, the vice principal of the school, translated her words into English. By the way, Pinky has a sweet little fourmonth-old son, whose name is Magnus! We are deeply grateful for our unforgettable time in Liberia and highly motivated for the next Mary’s Meals backpack project in Germany.

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Help from the Harmattan Emma Turner, Mary's Meals Programme Officer, reports from our field office in Tubmanburg, Liberia. What is the weather like in Liberia now? It is consistently hot and humid in Liberia whatever the time of day or year! However it is the start of the dry season at the moment which brings the Harmattan (a dust wind off the Sahara Desert) which cools the air at night time. The transition between the seasons sadly seems to lead to a significant increase in cases of malaria. The dry season is an active time for Liberia as during the rain it becomes incredibly hard to move around due to flooded roads and bridges and many businesses and markets tend to close. In addition the humidity rarely drops below 80% which makes it an exhausting and uncomfortable climate to work in, particularly outdoors. Most Liberians (and expats) prefer the dry season as although slightly hotter and more intense sun it is much easier to get work done. What are the biggest issues and challenges that people face at the moment? This is an election year which brings a degree of tension and anxiousness, particularly with the worsening situation in neighboring Cote D’Ivoire. There is a lot of excitement around the election with the current President and other candidates out and about rallying and campaigning. I witnessed people turning out in their thousands to register to vote in the capital city and the general feeling is that everything will run smoothly. One of the biggest challenges people often talk about is remembering how far Liberia has come since the war. It is easy to get frustrated when there is still no electricity and a very weak infrastructure, but seven years of peace has meant that the country has been able to rebuild an education sector from

literally nothing and revive and build thousands of new schools. Things are finally becoming more organised, but progress can only continue in peaceful times. Can you describe a Mary's Meals school in Liberia? Moussa Toure is a school that I always enjoy visiting. While it is slightly chaotic and often very loud, the children are always full of life and obviously really enjoy being at school. It is just outside the town of Klay on the main road to the capital city Monrovia. It is a small school, half made of concrete and half of mud and sticks with just over 100 pupils. There are no windows, just big gaping holes in the wall. There are many more children than seats and the only teaching materials are some broken and worn out blackboards. Despite all of this, every time I visit this school the children are packed into the tiny classrooms. Last time I was there the smaller children were learning "honky donkey" which it turns out is a slightly lost in translation Liberian version of humpty dumpty!

What do children in Liberia eat for their Mary’s Meals? A Mary’s Meal in Liberia is a bowl of rice with a spicy vegetable sauce and some fish, which is a typical Liberian meal. The cooks are mothers of the school children. Normally they work on a rotation and change on a daily basis. They lovingly prepare and serve it to the children every school day.

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Keeping learning on track

Mary's Meals has been involved in a project supporting children from the railway slums of Kolkata, India, for almost a year. In March, we received a letter and photographs from Sister Lizy, who runs the project. She told us of the difference that Mary's Meals was already making to her pupils. "These children are very poor, some of them don't even have one proper meal a day," she wrote. "With the help of Mary's Meals we are able to give them a nutritious meal each day at noon and we can see the difference in their studies and behaviour. Around 100 girls are supported at the project. Many of them live in shacks constructed from make-shift materials along the railway line and work as rag-pickers or caring for their younger brothers and sisters.

Children lliving in the Railway Slums

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When they started at school, the girls were unused to the routine and stability of regular lessons, but they have quickly adapted, as Sister Lizy explained. "They are now regular in attending the classes and their health status has improved. Their parents are very happy."

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Fundraising News

“I eat porridge most days, I just take it for granted, but half way around the world it is a life-transforming food” Sue Perkins

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Sue Perkins causes a stir A TV presenter and a champion porridge maker joined forces with Mary’s Meals to help feed some of the world’s hungriest children. Sue Perkins, known for her appearance in the ‘Supersizers’ series, and cook Anna Louise Batchelor, a winner at the World Porridge-making Championships, were filmed creating seven dishes featuring porridge - the meal given to children at Mary's Meals' projects in Malawi. The recipes and films were created by See the Difference, an online initiative that helps charities raise awareness through film, and were show on Facebook, helping to raise money for a school feeding project in Balaka, Malawi. Sue said: “I eat porridge most days, I just take it for granted, but half way around the world it is a life-transforming food. Mary’s Meals’ very specific remit is to feed children so they are full and able to study. What they do on one level is incredibly simple, but on another level quite profound. Education is the greatest gift you can give a child.” See the Difference hopes that the recipes will encourage many supporters to make a donation towards feeding all the children at their sponsored school, in the Balaka region of Malawi, for a year.

Find out more at and watch Sue Perkins talk about why she supports Mary's Meals at

Drivers make a difference

Marked men

A classic car tour featuring Jaguars, Triumphs, Bentleys and a Citroen 2CV, will stop off in Dalmally, the home of Mary's Meals, on April 17th.

The cyclist Mark Beaumont came face to face with another sporting Mark Beaumont this month - and swapped his handlebars for a racket to support Mary’s Meals.

The event, raising money for Mary's Meals and Strathcarron Hospice, sees 60 vehicles complete a circuit of some of Scotland's most scenic countryside, taking in a hill climb and stops at two castles. Organised by Strathendrick Rotary Club, the tour takes place on 'Drive it Day', a national celebration of classic cars. "We think we have a cracker organised for this year covering the lochs and glens of Argyll and the optional opportunity to drive up the classic Rest and Be Thankful Hill Climb," said Joe Norman, the organiser. Starting at the Beech Tree in in Dumgoyne, the tour stops at Inverary and Culcreuch castles. Vehicles are expected to arrive at the auction mart check point in Dalmally between 1:30 and 3pm. mary’s meals extra

The round-the-world cyclist took on Mark Beaumont, a squash coach, in a game of racketball at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth. “Mark’s Match” was part of the Great Big Racketball Challenge, a fundraising drive organised by Scottish Squash and Racketball, to support Mary’s Meals and inspire people come up with their own active plans to raise money for the charity. Mark said: “Encouraging people to raise money for Mary’s Meals whilst playing racketball is fantastic.” And the winner? It was Mark Beaumont, of course.

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10 Ways To Help Mary’s Meals Online The internet is a great way to spread the news of Mary’s Meals, promote events and share stories. Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Join us on Facebook and invite all your friends to the page too. You’ll find photos, news and fundraising ideas.

2. Re-tweet our Twitter updates @marysmeals and mention us in your own. 3. Use sites such as or to raise money for your sponsored events. You can even ask people to donate money to Mary’s Meals for your a birthday, wedding or special occasion.

4. Sign up to this e-bulletin to receive updates and stories every quarter. 5. Use a Mary’s Meals e-card to send greetings to friends on special occasions. 6. If you write a blog, please mention Mary’s Meals, and please include a link to our website. 7. You don’t need to give a penny extra to donate whilst you shop through Amazon, ebay, Debenhams, Tesco and other outlets make a contribution to your chosen charity when you buy from them.

8. Add your own events to our fundraising calendar on the website and get inspiration from others’ ideas. Email events to

9. Show off. Use the internet to tell people about your Mary's Meals activities. If you're at an event, post the video or photos online, or why not conduct a phone interview with participants and create a 'phlog' via

10. Watch our videos on or and if you enjoy them, share with friends. mary’s meals extra

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who are we? In case you are reading this without any prior knowledge of the charity and wonder who we are, here is a brief summary . . . Mary’s Meals is a movement to set up school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger block children from gaining an education. This movement is administered by the charity Scottish International Relief (SIR). SIR came into being during the Bosnian conflict in 1992. Two brothers, Magnus and Fergus MacFarlaneBarrow, were so moved by the scenes on TV that they decided to organize an appeal for blankets and food in their local area, Argyll, Scotland. They quickly gathered a jeep load and joined one of the convoys leaving the UK and delivered the aid to Medjugorje in Bosnia, a place of international pilgrimage they had visited with their family years previously. Believing their good deed done they returned to Scotland expecting to resume their jobs as fish farmers. However they came home to discover the public had carried on donating aid in their absence filling their parents' garage with goods. Magnus decided to give up his job for a year to drive the aid out for as long as the public kept donating. The public did not stop and it soon became necessary to set up a registered charity. The charity began to work in Romania, building homes for abandoned children, and in Liberia, helping returning refugees by setting up mobile clinics, while continuing to deliver material aid to Croatia and Bosnia. In 2002 Magnus met a family in Malawi that led to a whole new area of work. The mother was dying of AIDS and lying on the floor of her hut surrounded by her 6 young children When Magnus asked her oldest son what he hoped for in life, his stark reply was, 'To have enough to eat and to go to school one day," This encounter prompted the campaign, Mary's Meals, that aims to help children like this by providing a meal a day in school. In this way the children are encouraged to gain the education that can lift them out of poverty in later life. This simple but effective idea has gathered momentum and today provides daily meals for over 500,000 of the world’s poorest children. Our headquarters is still situated in the grounds of Craig Lodge, Argyll, but support groups are springing up around the world.

Mary’s Meals HQ Craig Lodge, Dalmally In Scotland

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Marys Meals is administered through Scottish International Relief A company limited by guarantee. Coy No. SC265941 Registered Charity SCO22140

Craig lodge, Dalmally, Argyll, PA33 1AR Tel: +44 (0)1838200605 Email:

our vision Is that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things, and that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education

Mary's Meals EXTRA - Issue 9  
Mary's Meals EXTRA - Issue 9  

E-magazine for Mary's Meals supporters