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ex tra e-magazine for mary’s meals supporters Issue no 7 - September 2010

New school term In Malawi Mary’s Meals team prepares

welcome Welcome to the September 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. We hope that you will find it a useful resource and choose to keep hold of your copy (feel free to photocopy, use, or republish any of the contents). If you are interested in Mary's Meals news between issues, we would encourage you to sign up to our pages on Facebook and Twitter at which are updated on an almost daily basis with overseas, UK and fundraising news, as well as to keep an eye on our website In this issue This issue includes an update on our work in Malawi, where schools have just returned for the start of a new academic year. Fiona and Eilidh, two of our university volunteers, visited projects there just before the schools summer break and write about their experiences of a backpack distribution and an under sixes centre. We have also included the story of Rafi, a young woman who lives in our children's home in Romania, who has recently had her life turned around by an operation. Some big news at Mary's Meals over the summer was Magnus' nomination as a CNN Hero. This led to a film about our work being made and broadcast across the US company's international television networks - with lots of positive effects that are described on page 17. Of course, none of our work would be possible without our supporters' incredible fundraising efforts, and this issue includes the stories of the volunteers who helped at the St Ninian's Day Parade in Edinburgh, the congregation who organised a 'poverty meal' in Abu Dhabi, and the young man who walked all the way to Jerusalem in support of Mary's Meals. Of course, you don't have to walk 2,000 miles to help Mary's Meals. Every time you fill a backpack, put a coin in our collection box, or tell a friend about the charity, you are doing something important to help us provide some of the world's poorest children with a meal a day in their place of education. Thank you.

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Total number of children receiving a daily meal in school = 420,135

Key Figures

Average cost of Mary’s Meals per child per year = £9 / €10 / $13.50 Cost of Mary’s Meals per child, per year in Malawi = £6.15/€7.16/$10.10 Number of backpacks sent overseas in 2010 = 30,360

Number of children receiving a daily meal in their place of education at September 2010 ALBANIA 570 BOSNIA 50 BURMA 290 HAITI 13,980 INDIA 3,160 KENYA 17,110 LIBERIA 23,950 MALAWI 351,600 PHILIPPINES 1,420 ROMANIA 35 SUDAN 2660 THAILAND 1,200 UGANDA 3,300 UKRAINE 520 ZAMBIA 290

Global Total = 420,135 mary’s meals extra

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Project News

A new academic year begins in Malawi

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All roads lead to the island in the sky By Farhaana Ismail, Mary's Meals Communications Officer in Malawi

It’s a time of hustle and bustle as the team in Malawi gets ready for the start of a new school term. School feeding shelters have to be cleaned and supplies replenished. Truck loads of firewood and Likuni Phala have to be delivered to all the schools. It’s enough to make the logistics team pull their hair out. Monitors are experiencing a lull before the storm hits when they will be frantically running around checking on enrolment figures and other monitor-like duties. At the same time, new monitors who have recently joined the team are learning to ride and we can hear and see them tottering along on their motorbikes across the road. The warehouse team is already busy preparing little gift bags for the Christmas parties we have for our under-six centres. Meanwhile, in the office, excitement is in the air as plans are put together to start building twenty new feeding shelters in schools around southern Malawi.

School with a view

Despite the frantic moments we undergo before schools open we have still managed to fit in a few adventures. One trip that was particularly memorable was a trip to the Mulanji district (famous for Mulanji Mountain – one of the highest mountains in Africa). We were on a mission to check whether rocket stoves (the fuel efficient stoves used to prepare children's porridge) needed to be replaced in several schools. The job itself was routine, but visiting these schools in remote rural countryside made it all worthwhile. Expecting schools to be deserted, it was quite a surprise to find that some of these schools have children playing nearby, and even to find ashes in the shelters, indicating that the schools are very much in the heart of a village community. Children were always excited and curious to see what we had come to do at their school.

As we were driving back to Blantyre with the looming presence of the Mulanji mountain, I couldn’t help but envy the beauty and serenity of the nature the children are surrounded by, and what they wake up to and see every day out of their classroom windows. Not all of us can boast of our own island in the sky. Farhanna Ismail joined the team in Malawi this summer. She lives in Blantyre.

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SOMETHING for the little ones Fiona Vallance was Mary's Meals' volunteer fundraiser at Glasgow university last year. She visited our projects in Malawi this summer. Below, she writes about her experience of an under-sixes feeding centres. Our first visit was to the under-six centre at St Mary's Chenussa school in Blantyre. The centre is classified as urban, but it was still a 20-minute drive from Blantyre city centre and the roads to get there were rough and bumpy. I was overwhelmed by the smell, especially of dried fish. When we entered the centre, the teachers rounded up the children. I was surprised by how obedient they were - they immediately all gathered on the stone floor to sit and entertain their visitors. The majority of children were orphans who had no parents or material possessions. Their feet were bare and hardened by their lack of shoes and despite their immediate smiles, on close inspection it was clear to see that these children were suffering from the lack of clean water, housing and food at home. I met one boy who at first glance looked like a normal, healthy child, but when we got the opportunity to communicate with him closely I could see how flaky and damaged his scalp was and how brittle and yellow his teeth were. The children spoke Chichewa, one of Malawi’s main languages, but had been learning English and recited the alphabet to us, as well as the days of the week and the months of the year. Afterwards, they all jumped to their feet and sang songs about the different parts of the body, along with the actions; "shake your head," they chanted and they blew us kisses. The teachers selected different children to play out the actions. As well as learning, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. The children then played a game called 'Adam and Eve'. One boy and one girl were selected and blindfolded, then they had to catch each other whilst the other children gathered around in a circle to watch and laugh. These children were all under the age of six and despite their circumstances they appeared to be functioning very well – I believe because of the work of Mary’s Meals. Whilst the children had been singing and dancing, the volunteers had been cooking up the likuni phala (preparing this nutritious porridge actually took a long time, as the volunteers had to stir for hours to get the food to the right consistency). The children were then told that their likuni was going to be served and they sat in rows and patiently waited. I asked one of the teachers when the last time that the children had eaten was, and she claimed to not know - we were visiting on a Monday and there was a chance that the children had not eaten since the last time that the under 6 centre was open, which was the Friday. They sat quietly while I was given the honour of serving it. I felt really conscious as I was serving each mary’s meals extra mary’s meals extra

bowl, because I knew that the food I was giving out was literally a lifeline, and I couldn't help but feel responsible and determined to make sure that every child was given a portion in equal measure. Many of the children we met were orphans whose guardians have several other children to feed, so they really relied on the food that Mary's Meals provided. Once the bowls were lined up, we gave them to the children and they sat and devoured the food. While the children ate, the Mary's Meals monitor Regina checked every child's attendance. If a child was off sick, she asked about their whereabouts and health - every child was a vital member of the class and not just another number. Mary's Meals make sure that the children at the under six centres get two meals a day; likuni phala in the morning and Nsima and relish in the afternoon. The volunteers at the under 6 centre's told me about how vital it was that the younger children got two meals a day. At such a young age, child development can only occur with the nutrients and vitamins that food like Mary's Meals delivers. If the children are learning at the under 6 centres, then they have the building blocks which are needed to enter primary school at the right level and will have the opportunities to really educate themselves and go onto lead fulfilling lives.

Regina told me that the children with HIV/AIDS are also monitored and given the supplement sibusisa for extra vitamins to ensure that they are not at even more of a disadvantage.The next under-six centre that we visited was Lapani, a rural school so far from 'civilisation' that I wondered how Mary's Meals had ever found them, but once

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again the monitors seemed very clued up on the children and their circumstances. We arrived in time for lunch and were met with open arms by the volunteers, whilst some of the younger children were suspicious of us 'mzungu's' (white people). The babies had never seen white girls before and it was odd to feel like a minority when I have always been used to being in the majority. Before lunch was served we gave the children gifts from home. I was overwhelmed by the children's excitement at the smallest of gestures. I met a little boy who had the most beautiful smile and I gave him a tennis ball to play with. He had no idea what to do with the ball and it took me ten minutes to try to introduce him to the concept of throwing and catching.

they volunteered they stated their love for Mary's Meals and what it has given to the children of their community.

They insisted that without Mary's Meals, children's futures would be a lot less certain and that the under 6 centres allow the children to play, feed, learn and interact. If there were no feeding projects, the children would have no structure, routine or normality in their lives.

By the time he had grasped this, I demonstrated how the ball bounced and this surprised him even more. I couldn't help but wonder what a 6-year-old British boy would think of a 6-yearold Malawian boy in a pink jumper, unaware of the fun properties a ball had to offer. We gave the children colouring in books and coloured pencils and once again they didn't understand what they were supposed to do with these strange tools. Once I showed them, they were entertained and kept colouring in until lunch was served - eager to show me what they had achieved. They all shared the toys and were looking out for one another. Lunch, consisting of nsima and vegetable relish was served by the incredible volunteers, who were feeding the children whilst carrying one or more of their own babies on their backs. The volunteers wanted no thanks for their help but instead thanked us for coming which seemed insignificant compared with the work they do on a daily basis. When we asked why

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A Warehouse Welcome Eilidh Campbell was the Mary's Meals volunteer fundraiser at Edinburgh University last year. She visited Malawi this summer and helped with the distribution of backpacks. We arrived at Mary's Meals headquarters on our first day in Malawi to find lots of people buzzing around and a sunny feel to the place. About six staff were at work sorting through backpacks, preparing to distribute 4,000 in the north of the country the following week. The warehouse was pretty full when we saw it, ready to be emptied and filled again with new bags from the UK and elsewhere. We met Florian, who is in charge of the warehouse, for the first time, and were excited to discover that we would get the chance to join him and a couple of the other warehouse staff distributing backpacks to a small school in Blantyre. After leaving the main road, the pick-up took us over some pretty bumpy pot-holed roads to get to the school. As we drove up to the school, crowds of children ran towards the car, shouting ‘Mzungu! Mzungu!’ This was slightly intimidating the first time it happened but we became quite used to it. Before going into the school we met the volunteers cooking likuni phala, a maize porridge which is locally produced in Malawi. They had been there for hours stirring away, but carried on patiently and carefully. The classrooms were bare and not all of the children had seats or desks. Florian spoke to the children in Chichewa (the first language for most of them) and asked them to hold up their current backpacks. Many of the children had battered plastic bags or no bag at all, and it was clear the school itself did not have sufficient classroom equipment. Florian explained what the children would find in their bags and told them that they must take great care of the contents, and should come to school every day and work hard. He also told them where the bags came from and explained that school children in Scotland had put together the bags for them. Each item that Florian announced got a HUGE cheer from the class. We understood ‘soap’ and ‘toothbrush’ (inside most of the backpacks are pencils, notebook, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, towel, clothing, sometimes shoes and other stationary, and a few have small tennis or foam balls). Fiona and I then helped to hand out the backpacksEven the way each child held out their hands and clutched the backpack close to them to carry themback to their seats, demonstrated how important they were to them. It was pretty fantastic to watch and help them investigate the contents, but all too soon we had to leave.

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Rafi’s Return Ibolya Ungur is the Director of Iona House, our children’s home in Romania. This summer she travelled to Britain with Rafi, a teenager undergoing a life-changing operation. Below, Ibi writes about Rafi’s journey, from a little girl abandoned in one hospital, to a young woman starting a new phase of her life after visiting another.

10 years ago, nobody thought that we would witness miracles at Iona House. And yet, this is the place where the dreams of many children, forgotten by their parents and society, become reality. When we opened Iona House children’s home, we hoped and believed that we could make a few children’s lives easier. We wanted to provide them with a home, to give back some of the joy of a childhood that they had never had until then. None of us expected or even dare to hope further ahead. Last year, we celebrated when we saw three of the girls who had grown up here in their wedding dresses, and we thought that we could not hope for more. But miracles are continuing to happen. Rafi, a girl whose leg was completely twisted, and who could hardly walk, today has a straight leg. Very shortly, she will be able to walk as we do. After a very difficult surgery at one of the most prestigious orthopaedic clinics in the U.K., Rafi has seen her dream come true - she will be able to walk like other girls of her age. She will dream and one day she will love. Rafi’s return home was an unforgettable moment for us. The young people with whom she had confronted so many obstacles, the staff, who had taught her how to be loved and to give love, and friend from outside of Iona House mary’s meals extra

who had encouraged and comforted her, were all in the house cheering with tears in their eyes. Rafi is a winner and she is ours. To us she is a small angel who teaches us an extraordinary lesson - you can come through the most awful circumstances in this life –to be abandoned of the parents who had a duty to love and shelter you, to have one twisted and helpless leg, to have ill health because of the negligence of those who were supposed to take care of you - and still overcome your condition with dignity and continue to hope! Bravo Rafi, you are extraordinary, we love you and we are so proud of you. We want to thank those who helped Rafi's dream to become reality and especially Mary’s Meals/SIR, FRODO kids, the surgeons and all the medical staff from Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital in Oxford, E.ON Romania and our staff and friends. We have been the witnesses of extraordinary events at Iona House and we know we haven't seen them all. I believe that this place, perceived by some as a sad place, is actually somewhere where God always smiles.

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WITH THANKS from Uganda

“With these gifts you have freed our minds to obtain more knowledge.” Mother Angioletta Primary School (Gulu district)

“These textbooks were received with a great deal of enthusiasm and gratitude by all the community of in Bukedea.”

Thanks to your donations, Mary’s Meals recently sent a container filled with backpacks to Uganda. We received several thank you letters after they were delivered and wanted to share their contents with our supporters.

“As this is a newly opened mixed secondary school the donation is timely and extremely useful!” Leo Atubo College (Negetta, Lira)

St John’s College Kachumbala

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Studying for something big Gillian McMahon is Project Development Officer for Mary’s Meals. She writes about her meeting with Safiya, a little girl who works as a rubbish collector in Kolkata, India I visited the Mary's Meals project in Kolkata with Sister Lizzy, one of the Holy Cross Sisters who run the school, an three-room apartment on the third floor of a small building. When I arrived the entrance hall was full of children who gave me a beautiful floral garland. The girls who come here have never been to school and the main aim of the project is to enable them to move into formal education. Their parents are street people who live in slums which are regularly destroyed by the police. Before coming to the school many work as rag-pickers or beggars. Sister Lizzy explained that this school focuses on girls because there is a gap between educational opportunities for boys and girls in India, as girls are often needed to stay at home and help provide a family income. For almost all of the children, the lunch time meal provided by Mary’s Meals will be the only food that they receive that day. At 12.30 I watched them line up patiently with their metal bowls to be served curry and rice. The school tries to vary the diet for the children so they receive a combination of chicken, soya beans, dahl and fish. I commented on how happy and well behaved the pupils appeared, and Sister told me that it was not like that at the start. New pupils can struggle because they are not used to routine and they miss the freedom they had on the street. It takes them time for them to become used to their new diet as whenever they managed to get food before, it was likely to be a cheap, sweet bun. On our way to visit to the school for the second time we passed lots of people begging next to a graveyard and Sister Lizzy stopped beside one old woman to ask how she was.

At school, English classes were taking place. The children were reading aloud from their books and when Sister arrived they were eager to show her what they could do. They had been reading a poem which started ‘Donkey, donkey’ and kept shouting ‘Sister, sister…Donkey, donkey’. She laughed at them and they were very pleased. She then asked a little girl called Safiya if she would mind answering a few questions. Safiya was very happy to be chosen and Sister Lizzy said that all the others were jealous. They kept running up to our table throughout the interview asking if they could go next. Safiya was not in her uniform that day because it was being cleaned. Sister Lizzy explained that it was Safiya’s grandmother we had met with the wee boy who was her brother. She was very proud to be able to spell her name to me in English. Like her mother and her grandmother, she is a rubbish collector and lives in the slum, near the railway. She had gone to a different school once before, but had to stop to care for her brother. Health care workers persuaded her family to let her return to Sister Lizzy’s school, as she would also have something to eat (Mary's Meals) every day there. Safiya told me that she loves to play, study and to eat, especially her favourite food, which is fish. She says it feels good to have a full stomach. On her first day at school she was happy because she had a chance to be with the other children and a chance to come to lessons. ”I would like to become big,” (something big) she said. “I want to be a doctor.”

She was sitting with a very small boy who was half naked and very dirty. I could see that his thin legs were turned inwards and covered in scars from surgeries. He had a lump on his forehead and would not look at us. The woman, his grandmother, said that he was doing ok but was still in pain. As we walked away, Sister Lizzy explained that he has many growth problems and disabilities. The Sisters have helped the family and he has had six operations, but there is nothing more that can be done. He is expected only to live for another 1-2 years.

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JIMMYS STORY Jimmy is a student in Cite Soleil, Haiti. He talks about his life and his experiences in the months after the earthquake. In his own words‌ My name is Jimmy. I was born in Cite Soleil and I grew up there with my family. I have six brothers and one sister. When I was younger, it was very difficult to get food. It wasn't possible for my parents to send us to school, so I didn't go for about four years. Then, when I was in fourth grade, I started at the Hands Together school, where I get food from Mary's Meals. When I first heard about Mary's Meals, I thought that Mary was the cook. Now I know that it is food that has been given to us. Mary's Meals is very important for me and many other people - it does very, very big things in Haiti and Cite Soleil. Right now it's not as difficult to get food as it was before. Learning on a full stomach Being hungry stops you from learning well and from listening to the teacher, because you are thinking about having food. Before leaving home to come to school, I used to think "am I going to get any food?" Now we know that we can have food from Mary's Meals, we don't worry at all because we have people who are taking care of us. If there is a problem with the food, I would say it is I think it is because the food is too tasty, everybody likes the food - the principals, the teachers, the students, the cooks! Future plans I am in the eleventh grade. In two years I will finish my classical (initial) education. Then I would like to go to university to learn about agriculture. In Haiti, we have big problems. We have earthquakes and other natural catastrophes. By studying agriculture, I can learn to grow the plants and trees to help Haiti to cope. Haiti is naturally a very good country, but right now it's bad because people are cutting down trees to make shelters and for firewood, because they don't have other ways to cook their food. They think about cutting up the roots and making coal, but they don't think about replanting. In my neighbourhood, my friends and I teach other kids who don't have the chance to go to school. It is a little thing, I would like to do more. Because I have had the opportunity to study, I have the opportunity to give what I have studied to others. After the earthquake After the earthquake my house was broken. My father has made some little tents for us at the front of the mary’s meals extra

house, with some bits of scrap and pieces of clothes. I have somewhere to sleep - I keep waking up and going to school - but I still sleep outside the house because part of my house is damaged and part of it keeps tearing. Afraid to step outside Before the earthquake, life was difficult because there were gunshots around Cite Soleil and people couldn't go out - they couldn't go to school because of the gang members. They were shooting every day and every night because they didn't have any work or any way to eat, and that pushed them to do some bad things. When I went to school, my biggest problem was that I was afraid to walk through the streets because of the violence. After the earthquake, I thought that the gang members would change their minds and become good people, but it became harder and they decided to carry on doing what they were doing. They didn't think about getting work, they only thought about getting guns and showing them off. They went out and did bad things to get money and food. Right now things are getting a bit better, thanks to the police and the ministers. Delivering hope A few days after the earthquake, I was out in my neighbourhood, talking to my friend, when I saw Father Thomas (the priest who runs the Hands Together schools where Mary's Meals is provided). He told me that he had a meeting the next day in his house with the school's teachers and principals. I prayed, because I thought if Father Thomas was thinking about us, there could be a better life again. Some days after that, our friends delivered food and a little water from Mary's Meals. It was extraordinary, because I thought that after the earthquake we wouldn't have a chance. Now we all go to school and we still have food from Mary's Meals. That's very, very good grace from God and from the people who thought about us after the earthquake. I will keep praying and I know that my mother will keep praying for Mary's Meals to keep doing this good work for all countries and for me and my friends.

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Magnus, Mary's Meals founder, was introduced to Jimmy in Haiti in July. He wrote to supporters last month telling them about that meeting. Watch a short film about Jimmy Read Magnus' letter about Jimmy

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Magnus becomes a CNN Hero mary’s meals extra

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WORLD PORRIDGE DAY There are just a few weeks to go until this year’s World Porridge Day, an event that is set to cause a stir among porridge-lovers and Mary’s Meals supporters everywhere. World Porridge Day, on Sunday October 10, is a chance for us to celebrate the work of Mary’s Meals and to let more people know about its role, feeding more than 400,000 of the world’s poorest children in their place of education. The event was started last year by the organisers of the World Porridge Making Championships (a competition held in Carrbridge, Scotland). They wanted to support Mary’s Meals because of the role that a maize-based porridge (called likuni phala) plays in Malawi, where children receive a nutritious mug every day at our school projects. This year we are asking our supporters around the world to get involved. Why not hold a porridge (oatmeal) breakfast for family and friends at home, or at a local church or community centre, organise a flapjack sale at work, or swap porridge recipes with colleagues. If you feel like doing something more unusual, why not use porridge as the basis of a sponsored event, a competition, or even an attempt to break a record! We know that many of our partners and supporters are already putting plans in place – from a topping-tasting in Southampton to a ‘sponsor a pot’ party in Blantyre, Malawi. Pupils at Dalmally Primary School have had an invitation join a senior member of the Government for breakfast, and pupils at Holyrood High School are hoping to share (via the internet) their World Porridge Day party with friends at a Mary’s Meals project more than 500 miles away. Although the official date for World Porridge Day is Sunday, October 10, you can get involved at any time. Whatever you do and whenever you do it, please tell us about your plans and send your photos. If you are planning an event for World Porridge Day, please let us know at If you would like posters, leaflets or information, please contact the same address or call 01838 200605 or visit

This is a selection of activities that supporters organised last year: At the World Porridge Making championships in Carrbridge, volunteers served porridge to visitors. A replica of Rabbie Burns’ porridge bowl was auctioned for the charity. In Medjugorje in Bosnia and Craig Lodge in Argyll, porridge was served and guests were encouraged to try new and unusual toppings. In Malawi, children at Namiwawa Primary School near Blantyre enjoyed a porridge festival where they tasted Scottish porridge and sang and danced for local dignitaries. In London, a porridge stall formed part of the parish feast day at Our Lady of Muswell Hill church. In Carickmacross in Ireland, parishioners at St Joseph’s church enjoyed a bowl after the service. In Hampshire, supporters invited friends to their house for a flapjack tea (and put Mary’s Meals leaflets and a collection box on the table). In La Fleix, France, a group of friends enjoyed a Scotland-themed porridge party which included trying Scottish country dancing. At Kingussie High school, pupils made a film and showed it at a special ‘porridge assembly’. Pupils at Resolis Primary School had porridge as part of their Harvest Festival. In Loch Awe, Argyll, Girl Guides made ‘oatie bath bombs’. They learned that oats can be good for the skin and make great face masks. In Edinburgh, MSP Jamie McGrigor submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament in support of the event.

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The Price of Poverty Lent was a busy time for Mary’s Meals supporters in Abu Dhabi, writes Diogene De Souza, a catechism Student at St Joseph’s Cathedral It is the first Friday of Lent at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Abu Dhabi. The church compound is teeming with activity as children rush in for another day of Catechism and parishioners crowd in for a morning of worship. The children all know that today is the first day of the Mary’s Meals campaign in our parish. Many of have seen the campaign grow over the last few years. If anyone had any questions, the display of posters and banners would answer them . “Help Mary’s Meals feed a child for an entire year”, one poster says. “Help end hunger. Contribute to Mary’s Meals”, says another. And of course there is the traditional 5 gallon water bottle in which the children put their money. As soon as the children see the bottle being brought out, they know what they have to do. They all rush forward to try to be the first to put their money in. The idea behind the clear bottle is that the children can see the money grow and grow and grow. Those who do not put their money in the bottle can still contribute, because all the money collected at the children’s Mass adds to the collection. Throughout the week, donations keep coming in. Well-wishers from other parishes call, offering support. From Dubai alone, a group of friends has raised 2000 dirhams in support of Mary’s Meals. We start week two selling tickets for the ‘poverty meal’ which will take place on Palm Sunday. The poverty meal is very simple. Guests donate 40 dirhams and share in a Mary’s Meal of rice and lentils, helping to feed a child through Mary’s Meals for one year. Preparations are already in full swing. One of the catechists, who owns a restaurant, has agreed to sponsor the food. On Friday, in church, we show the children a PowerPoint presentation so they know what Mary’s Meals is doing and they know the joy their 40 dirhams will bring to the children in the Mary’s Meals program. By the end of week two, more than half of the tickets have been sold and the level of money in the bottle continues to rise. During week three, we push for ticket sales. With only one week left before the meal, everything has already been arranged. This week, children start to sell wrist bands. The level of money in the bottle rises and it becomes so heavy that two people are needed just to put it on a chair. There are only about 20 tickets left to be sold now. It’s week four and Friday morning sees teachers and volunteers running around, finalising preparations. The meal begins at 11:00 am. By 10:30, there are people queued outside the building. The parish priest comes and says the grace before meals, and then the meal begins. People begin to file in and pick up their food package, a simple meal of rice and lentils. The meal was a great success and has built up so much support for Mary’s Meals that donations keep coming in, even after the campaign had ended. The Friday after Easter, the catechists gather to count the money collected. The bottle in which the children had put their money is brought in and cut open, and the counting begins. Another successful year supporting Mary’s Meals ends and a huge cheer sounds when the counting ends and the final amount has been declared. mary’s meals extra

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With the help of over 60 volunteers all highly visible in bright blue Mary's Meals T-shirts, we were able to hold a street collection and give out flyers and badges to the huge crowds that gathered in Edinburgh to greet the Pope as he made his way along Princes Street. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals CEO, describes the day, “I think yesterday was one of those very special days for Mary’s Meals. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of Princes Street as the crowds began to gather in the early morning sun, speckled wherever you looked with the blue of Mary’s Meals! It was such a moving day for me in a lot of ways – I hadn’t understood that I was going to be introduced to the Pope and the Queen, so that was an incredible surprise. Perhaps even more moving for me was the realisation of how loved Mary’s Meals has become by so many people. It was especially wonderful to see so many of our young smiling volunteers giving up their day to shake buckets and hand out leaflets! I think they made a huge impression on so many in the crowd. As of course did our more mature Mary’s Meals ‘stalwarts’!! Quite early in the morning, when a few of us had already been up for a few hours and I was beginning to think mary’s meals extra

Mary’s Meals was very honoured to be one of two charities invited to take part in the St Ninian’s Day celebrations organised to welcome Pope Benedict to the UK during his recent visit.

that this was going to be quite a long day, two ladies approached to ask where to meet up with the rest of the Mary’s Meals volunteers – they explained they had just come all the way from Donegal to join us. I didn’t feel tired or sorry for myself again after that!” The collection raised over £2,500 but the real value goes far beyond that figure in terms of the number of new people who have now heard about Mary’s Meals through media coverage or getting flyer from a volunteer. STV interview with Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow about Mary's Meals and their invitation to take part in the St Ninian's Day parade:

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SNOW We are aware of the great lengths many go to, to fundraise for Mary’s Meals. But surely few have gone so far as Jamie Bruce who has just completed a walk from Bristol to Jerusalem. By Thomas Black After walking 180 miles from Bristol to Walsingham last year, Jamie met the visiting Archbishop of Jerusalem. Amongst other things the Patriarch discussed pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and suddenly inspiration struck. Jamie would walk to Jerusalem. A few days later he was discussing his plans with a friend who suggested that a sponsored trip could make a lot of money for a charity. The thought of Mary’s Meals came instantly to Jamie. The plans for the trip took shape and, on the 1st of January 2010, he set off. Walking through one of the coldest winters in decades Jamie said he discovered what is meant by the “wrong kind of snow” - wet snow that turns to slush when it hits the ground, that soaks through your boots and your clothes and freezes. Out of the snow he discovered something else, generosity and hospitality; in the freezing winter strangers opened their homes to him and took him in as he wandered his way across Europe. Trusting on providence and sleeping rough most nights often in freezing conditions Jamie made his way to Jerusalem. He set off on New Year’s Day and arrived six months later on the 24th of June. Time and again he says he was on the brink of despair, but would find new wells of hospitality or new reserves of strength to continue with his journey. Back in the UK Jamie found that he raised around £2000. All those miles don’t seem to have dampened his enthusiasm. When asked if he would ever do something similar, he said: “I’ve been toying with the idea of Russia to Mexico overland” he said, “or maybe if that’s too crazy the Camino in Spain.” Congratulations Jamie and thank you from Mary’s Meals enjoy your well-earned rest.

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New Glasgow office

Diary dates


World Porridge Day - Sunday 10 October : This year’s event on Sunday October 10 is chance to celebrate the work of Mary’s Meals and the difference that a mug of porridge makes to thousands of children. All sorts of events are planned – why not join in? We have lots of ideas at or

Glasgow Office Move: From September 20th, Mary’s Meals Glasgow office will be situated at 97A Hawthorn St (off Denmark Street), Glasgow G22 6HY.

Open Day - Saturday 2nd October 2-5pm: We are delighted to have Fr Tom Hagan and Doug Campbell from Haiti as our guest speakers. They look after our Mary’s Meals projects in Cite Soleil and lived through the earthquake and its aftermath. We are all looking forward to hearing the latest news and how the funds raised by Mary’s Meals are helping. The afternoon will also include music, story telling and an address by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals CEO. The event is at Wellington Church, 77 Southpark Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8LE. Please let us know if you plan to attend, call 0141 3367094 or 01838 200605 or email The Open Day will be a great chance to meet other people involved in Mary’s Meals and learn more about the charity’s work. We look forward to seeing you there! Mary’s Meals Music - Friday 29 October : This concert, in the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, will be an evening of entertainment, fundraising, and a chance to learn about Mary’s Meals. A starry line-up will include Eddi Reader, Jon Fratelli (The Fratellis) and Colin Macintyre (Mull Historical Society). We will post an update on how and where to buy tickets (which will be available from late September) on as soon as we have news. Will Relief: Mary’s Meals is one of the beneficiaries of Will Relief Scotland. Throughout September, solicitors across Scotland waive their fees for making a Will in return for clients giving a donation to the campaign. Any monies raised are divided between five Scottish charities working overseas, one of which is Mary’s Meals.

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Our email and telephone numbers will remain the same, however should you have any problems contacting us please call 01838 200605. Although our premises at 64-66 Glentanar Road will close on 17th September, our aid warehouse there will remain open. Its opening times have changed to Tuesday and Thursday only from 9-5. If you would like to drop goods off at the Aid Warehouse outside those hours, please call Charlotte on 0141 3367094. Mary’s Meals USA: Our American support group now has a fulltime member of staff. Patty Decker, who started in September, will co-ordinate Mary’s Meals USA from our new base in New York, receiving donations, meeting supporters and working closely with volunteers. Until now Mary’s Meals USA has been managed by an amazing group of volunteers. It is thanks to their hard work that we have now grown so fast in America. You contact Mary’s Meals USA via their website Christmas Cards: Mary’s Meals Christmas cards are on sale from the 6th of September. They are supplied in packs of 10 (5 of each design) with envelopes and cost £5. They can be viewed online at To order call 01838 200 605 or email Radio 4: On Sunday, August 1, Radio 4 featured a charity appeal for Mary’s Meals which raised over £12,000. Thank you to Duncan Bannatyne who presented the appeal. You can listen here:

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The CNN Effect

This summer, Mary’s Meals was thrilled to receive a call from a CNN reporter telling us that, thanks to a nomination from a supporter, Magnus had been chosen to be a “CNN Hero.” On a rainy day a few weeks later, a film crew arrived in Argyll to document our work, our scenic surroundings, and even to visit our local pub. Before we knew it, our modest founder’s face was being broadcast to millions via the popular American TV show Larry King Live. At Mary’s Meals bases in the United States and the United Kingdom, we began to see the benefits of the coverage immediately. Within days, more than 200 people had signed up to become supporters and we had gained around 500 new fans on Facebook. We received donations from generous viewers who had never come across Mary’s Meals before, as well as many kind messages and offers of practical help. There was also follow-on media coverage in Scotland, including an invitation for Magnus to appear on TV again, this time on STV’s evening chat show, The Hour. The fact that the beginnings of our charity came about over a pint enjoyed in the Glenorchy Lodge Hotel struck a particular chord with CNN’s journalists, who published a story entitled: “From beer-fuelled brainstorm to life’s work helping others.”

Magnus wrote to supporters at the time and said: “I never cease to marvel at the ways doors open for Mary’s Meals. I also never cease to cringe at having to do things like appear as a ‘hero’ on TV. I know lots of heroes and I am not one of them. However I realise this is the most amazing chance to tell more people than ever about Mary’s Meals.” Next steps: At the end of September, CNN will announce their ‘top ten heroes of the year’, each of whom will receive a donation towards their work, and will be invited to an award ceremony in Los Angeles. If Magnus is included in this shortlist, we will let you know. CNN’s films: Magnus MacFarlane Barrow

Mary’s Meals in Haiti

Visiting the Dalmally Head Office

A lively discussion on CNN’s Facebook page followed, with comments from members of the public including: “Can anybody spare a few cases to see what brainstorm idea I can come up with?” and “When I have a beer-fuelled brainstorm I usually end up with a massive hangover.”Though there was plenty of humour, our moment in the spotlight had a serious purpose – to tell a new audience about Mary’s Meals and how they can get involved with our work feeding hungry school-children. mary’s meals extra

Magnus on STV’s The Hour

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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 400,000 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.

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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 7  

News and views from Mary's Meals and supporters