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ex tra e-magazine for mary’s meals supporters Issue no 3 - Sep 2009

Now feeding over 375,000 children daily!

welcome Welcome to the September issue of the Mary’s Meals Extra, our quarterly e-bulletin. The Mary’s Meals Extra is designed for those of you who want more information and is aimed particularly at those of you who fundraise and spread the word about Mary’s Meals. We really hope this is a useful resource you can draw on. - You may want to reproduce own publications - please do!

Contents Key figures Project news In the media Fundraising news Mary’s Meals UK news Global Family news Who are we






- You may want to share some of the stories with your friends, families, colleagues, congregations – wonderful! - You may just want to keep in touch with other members of the evergrowing Mary’s Meals family – great! However you chose to use the Mary’s Meals Extra we hope it supports you in all your endeavours for Mary’s Meals. As always we welcome your feedback and ideas on how we could do things better.

In This Issue We are absolutely delighted that, since we put together the last Mary’s Meals Extra, over 10 000 new children are now receiving Mary’s Meals. Despite the economic difficulties we are all facing Mary’s Meals supporters continue to respond generously to the needs of those living in chronic poverty. On behalf of every one of the 375, 312 children who receive that life-changing daily meal in school – thank you! The news is not so good from Kenya where the drought is causing wide-spread food shortages. Our friends have been in touch appealing to us for extra funding to maintain feeding during the school holiday period. We hope we can find the extra money required and trust as always in your kindness that never ceases to amaze us. We have been reflecting on this kindness as we savour the fact that the three of the girls who have grown up in Iona House in Romania got married in June. These are girls who were abandoned by parents and by doctors. Thanks to the donations of many faithful supporters they were given the chance to grow up in Iona House where they received love, care and support from the dedicated staff led by Ibi Ungur. It was a legacy left to us by a supporter that enabled us to begin the Iona House project and we are taking this opportunity to remind all our supporters to consider remembering Mary’s Meals in their will. In this issue you can also read about the latest expansion into new schools in Malawi, why Virginia needed a new van in the Philippines, and why a Kampala secondary school needed new toilets, as well as a round up of news from the Mary’s Meals family. Hope you enjoy the read! Ruth Black Comms & Media, Mary’s Meals.

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Key Figures

Total number of children receiving a daily meal in school = 375,312 Average cost of Mary’s Meals per child per year = £8.40/€9.78/$13.80 Cost of Mary’s Meals per child, per year in Malawi = £6.15/€7.16/$10.10

Number of children receiving a daily meal in their place of education at August’09

BOSNIA 50 BURMA/THAILAND 1422 HAITI 12168 INDIA 2036 KENYA 7452 LIBERIA 15000 MALAWI 327394 PHILIPPINES 845 ROMANIA 34 SUDAN 2666 UGANDA 5839 UKRAINE 160 ZAMBIA 246 Global Total = 375, 312 mary’s meals extra

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Project News “you cannot educate children without feeding them.”

Mary’s Meals Uganda Our partner in Kampala is the Emmaus Foundation led by Fr John Scalabrini, an Italian priest who has worked in Uganda for most of his long and eventful life..more over

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uganda Blankets appeal Our project in the Masaka area of Uganda is appealing for blankets. On a recent visit to the Glasgow warehouse, Father Silvester, our representative there, explained to volunteers that although Uganda is very hot during the day, temperatures drop dramatically at night. Vulnerable children often have nothing to cover them and make do with huddling underneath their mother’s thin spare dresses. We have a container of aid leaving for Uganda in late Autumn and would appreciate any contributions of bedding before then. Blankets would be better than duvets because they are less bulky and easier to clean.

Our partner in Kampala is the Emmaus Foundation led by Fr John Scalabrini, an Italian priest who has worked in Uganda for most of his long and eventful life. This included being deported from the country by Idi Amin in the ‘70s. The Emmaus Foundation’s main aim is to improve the lives of Uganda’s poor through education. They have a special concern for the refugees who have flooded in from the north because of the violence perpetrated by groups such as the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army. The Emmaus Foundation’s work includes running the Bishop Cypriano Kihangire Secondary school in Kampala. But as Fr John says, “you cannot educate children without feeding them.” This has led to a partnership with Mary’s Meals that ensures all 2300 pupils receive a daily meal so that they can make the most of the wonderful educational opportunities the school provides. These pupils are 14-20 years old. It has been running for 10 years and Fr John was taken aback when the school management asked him recently for money to build a new toilet block. “I couldn’t understand why they suddenly needed to build this and so I asked them.” The reason was a very simple one. Before the advent of Mary’s Meals in the school there had not been much need for toilets. Fr John told us that last year food prices in Uganda increased to 5 times the usual price. The impact this had on the poor was devastating. “The financial crisis only limits our ability to buy things we can do without. In Africa it limits their ability to get the essentials.” Fr John is passionate about the difference an education can make to someone born into poverty. It is why he is always saddened when a young girl student drops out of school especially when the reason is that she has become pregnant. Recently a former pupil called, Peace, turned up at his door with a small child. He upbraided her for leaving school in this way. But she then explained that the little boy was her brother. Her mother and father had died and so how could she complete school when she now had to become ‘mother’ to young brothers and sisters. She had come to beg food from him. They had sold all their belongings down to their clothes. He was their last hope. As Father tells this tale one gets an insight into the level of need he meets on every side, every day. As he said to us wearily, “It is a very difficult thing to refuse food to young people.”

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albania By Ruth Black

In the last issue of the Mary’s Meals Extra I described a visit to Albania and meeting some of the families living up in the mountains who struggle to feed themselves and their children, particularly over the long winter months. We have been funding a simple project that provisioned families with extra supplies during the winter and it is clear this intervention saves lives.

Our friends in Albania asked us if we could possibly provide some further help by establishing a school feeding project in 3 schools over the most difficult time of the year. As we so often do in this situation, we came back and told you all about this need and once again we have been overwhelmed by your kindness.

Thanks to the generous response to our appeal we can say ‘yes’ to their request. The schools have no cooking facilities and instead the plan is to provide vitamin enriched snack bars to the children. We are absolutely delighted we can take this project on - but not nearly so delighted as our friends in Albania - thank you! We will keep you posted on how this project progresses.

“Prima ! ( Great ) When I think It goes no further something comes up and pulls me out of the deepest hole. These are miracles for me. These are works of God.” Fr Winsauer's reaction to news that we can fund the new Mary’s Meals project in three schools in Albania.

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Will Relief

By Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals CEO Mary’s Meals is to be one of the beneficiaries of a nationwide campaign raising money for charity while reminding members of the public of the importance of making a will. Will Relief Scotland, which runs throughout September, involves solicitors from across Scotland, who will cancel their fees for the month of September in return for clients making a donation to the Will Relief charities, one of which is Mary’s Meals. Will Relief is the brainchild of Graeme Pagan MBE, a retired solicitor from Oban, who is also a director and long-time supporter of Mary’s Meals.

Every day of our work allows miracles to happen and lives to be transformed. I know that to be true. Most often though these things happen in far away lands out of our sight. The recent weddings in Romania were different because this miraculous story has unfolded over many years right in front of the eyes of those of us lucky enough to know these young people. About 9 years ago we had a party in garden of Iona House to celebrate its opening. We had a little barbecue with the first group of children we had ‘liberated’ from the hospital. So much was new to them. That evening someone put on some music in the attic of Iona House and threw open the windows. Some of the adults present began to teach the children how to dance in the garden below. Dancing was much in evidence a few weeks ago at another unforgettable party in that same garden - and later in the attic of Iona House. This time a wedding party! The radiantly beautiful brides – Ana Maria, Ildi and Adela danced and danced with their grinning grooms and their young friends who have grown up with them danced too. And so did the staff of Iona House (the ones who have cared for them, laughed with them, cried with them, mourned with them, prayed with them and were now rejoicing with them). And so did we, their friends from Mary’s Meals. This is an amazing story isn’t it? But today in many other countries equally incredible stories are unfolding in the lives of the children that you are working for. Some are only alive because of you, some are only in school because of you, and others will get jobs, get married and have families because of you. I think it is very hard for us to believe sometimes that our little efforts, our little acts of love, can help produce such beautiful results. But they really can. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Ready and Willing? The Iona House project was only able to begin because of a legacy left by a supporter. Remembering Mary’s Meals in your will is another way of helping to transform the lives of the poor and needy. SEE LEFT HAND COLUMN FOR MORE INFO.

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liberia By Liesbeth Glas, Mary’s Meals Liberia The men are singing while they are working. One man signs a line, praising God, and the others repeat it. They sing as a group while they are working. They are harvesting our first rice. There is not a sound or sight more beautiful. Last January we started the rice farm as an effort to encourage local rice farming. The idea behind it is that if we can do our Mary’s Meals school feeding with locally produced rice than the local economy, the local farmers, will benefit from that.

Every dollar that would come our way would have a double value. It would feed a child and support the farmers and their families. We found a sponsor in David Lamont who generously supported this new adventure. Mr. Stephen Mathews, our agriculture teacher of the New World Farm was asked to take charge. And the work started. It was grueling work! The government gave us 25 acres of swampland to develop. An overgrown, bushy, snake ridden swamp. And the men started brushing it by hand with their cutlass (manchete).

They worked steadily, day by day, under the inspiring leadership of Mr. Mathews and cleared the 25 acres. Snakes, lizards, frogs and other wildlife had to run for its life or end up in the soup. Than the field was burned and the layer of top soil that was filled with roots and grass removed. Than the bunks were put in place thus forming 20 by 20 meter squares that would be the actual rice paddies.

Peripheral canals were dug to control the water in the swamp and the rice nursery was started. The first baby rice was planted 5 months ago. And we watched it grow. The rainy season was supposed to start in April but did not come. May came but no rain. The fields started to look a bit dry. Every little raindrop that fell was treasured by now. Our well at the Oscar Romero School had hardly water in it. But the rain did not come. Until July. And than it rained for days and the rice on the fields came up fast. What a relief!

Going to the rice farm is my favorite trip. To see the full rice stalks swaying in the breeze and the men going round with their catapults shooting at the rice birds and rattling the long lines with cans on it to scare them away. To smell the unique smell of crops ripening on the fields, the soil and the moisture. And to hear the singing of the men at work. Or the cook humming over the big pot on the fire where she cooks the food for the workers. The laughter of the women transplanting the baby rice unto the field. Growing food brings happiness, gives hope, feeds children, here in Liberia.

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kenya Mary’s Meals is a lunch time lifeline in Kenya’s food crisis Mary’s Meals is providing emergency support in Kenya to ensure that children at our projects there do not go hungry during the school holidays. Drought has had a dire impact on food production in the west-African country, and its government believes that at least 10 million Kenyans - nearly a third of the population, face malnutrition due to lack of food.

Congratulations to Charles Chuma and his wife who are rejoicing over the birth of twins! Charles coordinates our Mary’s Meals projects in three primary schools in Kenya; one in Njenga near Nairobi and two in the west of the country.

Normally, Mary’s Meals’ school feeding projects close when the school term ends, but our project manager in Kenya, Charles Chuma, has asked if we would continue to provide daily meals during August and early September, usually a holiday period.

They have named the babies, Laura and Parker, after Laura Hamilton and Andrew Parker who have both visited the projects on behalf of Mary’s Meals. We send the whole family our very best wishes!

The Kenyan government has mobilised its army to distribute food aid and has appealed to schools across the country to stay open despite the holidays, because in many cases the food they receive there (in our case, a mug of maize-based porridge) provides children’s most dependable source of nutrition. “This food crisis is due to the long droughts,” said Mr Chuma. “Even in Nairobi we have a shortage of water and electricity. But in Njenga primary, a Mary’s Meals school, the children are safe because we are getting some water from a nearby borehole.” The school holidays run for four weeks so Mary’s Meals will need to find funds for an extra 20 days of school feeding. We would welcome any help that our supporters are able to give.

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philippines Lola Her real name is Virginia Villahermosa but to the children on the streets of Dumaguete City on Negros Island in the Philippines she is known simply as, ‘Lola’ – grandmother. The children are street vendors hawking peanuts, candy and fruit around the city by day and sleeping wherever they can at night. Home might be up to 10 Km away and too far to walk home at the end of the day so they stay on the streets during the week returning home only at weekends.

Blessing of Mary’s Meals van in the Phiippines on youtube. View the clip here: o8tfa8nYV2Q

“My gratitude is from the earth to the heavens for Mary’s Meals. Now you do not see street children eating from garbage bins.”

Virginia’s message at the conference to all Mary’s Meals supporters.

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Thanks to Virginia there are Mary’s Meals projects running in several schools in the poorest areas of the city. The parents are very willing to volunteer with the cooking and serving of the meals for their children. These are very poor families; so poor their clothes are often so tattered and dirty that Virginia provides them with a Mary’s Meals T Shirt that they can treat as their ‘uniform’, so poor that Virginia noticed one lady carefully taking away the chicken bones left over from the meals served to the children. Over the years, Virginia has gathered a group of helpers around her. Their aims are simple: to feed the children and to keep them healthy. If you are poor you are unlikely to be able to afford medicines or hospital treatment for your sick child. The teachers at the schools receiving Mary’s Meals are delighted with the positive impact the project is having. They report improved attendance and better exam results. Earlier this year one little girl, Keffa Villacaol, from Calindagan Primary won an academic contest. Despite the work involved in overseeing the Mary’s Meals projects in the schools, Virginia could not forget the plight of the street children. “It is hard to forget seeing little children gathered round garbage bins scavenging for food.” She was determined to do what she could to help. Their lifestyle makes school very difficult. Some go to school early and work afterwards. The long walks on an empty stomach soon make this untenable. Their situation causes Virginia huge concern. “Without education they have no future”. Out of school they are very vulnerable and easily lured into criminal activity or prostitution. Virginia’s concern led to a feeding project to meet their particular needs. Three times a week Virginia and her team load up her little Picanto car with food they have cooked in Virginia’s kitchen and set off to find the street children. The children recognise her car and come running. Picnic tables are set up on the pavement and the food served. These children are of all backgrounds and faiths, “Any child who falls in line in our queue for food receives Mary’s Meals.” In their bid to improve the health of these hungry children they ensure over the course of one week they get a balanced diet. As well as the food, Virginia and the volunteers get to know the children and their situations. They encourage them to go to school, they arrange for them to have baths and health checks. And Virginia shows no sign of slowing down. She has recently come across another group of people in desperate need of help. Okoy community is 8 km from Dumuaguete City. The community consists of displaced families of refugees from the mountains who have fled from the conflict between the military and the insurgents. “The children have joined the ‘sack’ brigade. They come into the city to scavenge. We have not yet been able to persuade them to join in the street children feeding.” Undaunted Virginia is determined to brave the muddy, rough road to go and see what could be done to help them. This new undertaking was judged to be beyond the faithful Picanto's ability (Virginia's team requested our help to purchase a new van) but somehow I don't think it will be beyond Lola’s’.

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malawi Total number of children receiving a daily meal in school = 327,394 Average cost of Mary’s Meals per child per year = £8.40/€9.56/$13.35 Cost of Mary’s Meals per child, per year in Malawi = £6.15/€7/$9.77

Working Together on Behalf of Malawi’s Children By Andrew Kirkbride, Mary's Meals Malawi The success and reach of Mary’s Meals is due to the commitment and generosity of many individuals around the world. During these times when we hear of the ‘credit crunch’ and ‘financial crisis’ it is wonderful to realize that the generosity of individuals overcomes the challenges of commercial organizations and businesses. For a long time we have been able to feed the children here in our Malawi programme for around £6.15 per child per annum due to the reasonable cost of maize – the main component of our Likuni Phala. However the financial crisis changed things dramatically in December last year with a movement in exchange rates cutting our purchasing power by a third and a sharp increase in maize prices increasing the cost of Likuni Phala to over 95MKW/KG from former prices of 50-65MKW/KG. In response to real fears that we would struggle to maintain feeding at our primary schools, Rab Processors – a local Malawi company who supply and distribute our Likuni Phala came to the rescue. For some 4 months Rab agreed to forgo any profit and provide for our children at cost price. The attitude of the management team was to protect Mary’s Meals and ensure that we could weather the financial storms through the most difficult months. Rab Processors Chairman and founder Mr Gaffar Jakhura is an avid supporter of Mary’s Meals. He is also the CEO of another Malawian charity ‘Gift of the Givers’ whose ethos is that a gift in itself has value only through the generous spirit of the ‘Giver’. We are grateful to have such a generous partner as Rab Processors and appreciate the decisions they make on our behalf to put ‘business’ secondary to the needs of our children.

Growing Mary’s Meals Mary’s Meals school feeding projects have now begun in Balaka - a township in the southern region of Malawi. We have expanded into 11 schools there, and the total number of pupils in those schools is 10,719.

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In the media

Romanian weddings in the media spotlight At Mary’s Meals we believe that our work is worth talking about, but we are used to functioning away from the glare the limelight – because our mission is ongoing, it rarely makes the front pages. This summer’s weddings in Romania were different. The combination of romance, triumph over adversity and a celebrity guest, made a perfect cocktail for the media....more overleaf mary’s meals extra

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The wedding event gave us an opportunity to tell the public the story of our three children’s homes, and the huge strides that the children there have made since they moved away from the appalling hospital they were trapped in. It was also a chance to share our happiness with the supporters who were there in the early days. Their initial donations of toiletries, clothes and money made it possible for Iona House to grow into what it is today. One of the first to pick up on the story was The Sun, which focused on Duncan Bannatyne’s sponsorship of Casa Bannatyne life/2537772/Dragon-Duncan-Bannatyne-shows-hissofter-side.html. The Scotsman took a similar approach, favourably comparing the dragon’s involvement with SIR to Madonna’s decision to adopt two orphans in Malawi.

OTHER MEDIA NEWS Author visits Glasgow warehouse Philippa Gregory, best-selling author of The Other Boleyn girl, took time off from her UK tour in August to visit the Glasgow-based charity Mary’s Meals. The novelist, who has just released The White Queen, about the War of the Roses, toured the charity’s warehouse and met staff, signing copies of her books as a gift for volunteers. She also inspected items – such as school books, old sewing machines and blackboards – that were about to be sent on a shipping container of aid to Liberia. Ms Gregory, who wrote one of her early novels (A Respectable Trade) about the slave trade in Africa, chatted to staff about Mary’s Meals’ school feeding programmes there, which have parallels with her own project Gardens for Gambia.

The Daily Record featured an extensive interview with Magnus, explaining how the project started out eared-rescued-hiv-orphans-would-die-now-i-mattending-their-weddings-86908-21520836 While the Glasgow Evening Times told the story of Charlie and Cathy Marr, volunteers who travel to Romania every year to take the children on holiday. 023.0.wedding_role_of_thanks.php The story reached some unexpected quarters too, it was the subject of a feature in the celebrity magazine Reveal, and in another interview with Duncan Bannatyne on BBC’s Songs of Praise. Publicity is vital for an organisation like Mary’s Meals. Although it cannot always come thick and fast like the coverage above, it is a valuable way of letting people know who we are, what we do and why we are doing it.

The Telegraph helps us again Following on from over £300,000 raised through last year’s Christmas appeal, The Telegraph has stepped in to help Mary’s Meals again, donating another £1,000 through a partnership with ShareGift, which raises money for charity by selling unwanted share certificates. In addition, the newspaper asked readers to send in their own unwanted shares certificates. It held an online poll for readers, asking them to vote for which of last year’s three chosen charities they thought should benefit from the proceeds. Mary’s Meals was the winner – thanks to all of our supporters who took the time to vote. 147/Marys-Meals-wins-Telegraph-readers-vote.html

If you have a Mary’s Meals story that could help us to raise our profile, please let us know about it, and if you are organising an event, please let your local newspaper or radio station know. If you enjoy writing, why not set up a blog? Our Communications team can help by providing media contacts and template press releases. E-mail for more details.

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fundraising news

October 11th is World Porridge Day. This event could be a chance to tell people everywhere about the work of Mary's Meals and the difference a mug of porridge in school is making to thousands of children around the world....

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Mary’s Meals & World Porridge Day In Malawi, where over 320 000 children receive Mary’s Meals every day, the meal takes the form of a local porridge called Likuni Phala. This maize based porridge is fortified with vitamins and minerals and all the ingredients used in the mix are sourced from within Malawi. Because this local Likuni Phala porridge plays such an important part in the work of Mary’s Meals in Malawi, the organisers of World Porridge Day have invited Mary’s Meals to be the beneficiary charity for this international event. To many of us porridge is a ‘comfort’ food – something that warms us up on a wet, wintry day. To the children who receive Mary’s Meals in Malawi it is a comfort too, but in an entirely different way. For them, and their parents and community, it is the comfort of knowing that there will be a next meal and they no longer have to scavenge or work for it. It is a promise they can rely on. Andrew Parker, a project worker in Malawi, describes a Mary’s Meals school feeding project:

“A Mary’s Meals kitchen is a lovely place to be,” he says, “especially when you meet the volunteers – local ladies who wear a Mary’s Meals chitenje (skirt) as uniform and who sing as they prepare the porridge in huge pots on the top of a rocket stove. It smells good – like porridge.” We hope World Porridge Day on October 11th gives us the chance to: - Tell more people around the world about the work of Mary’s Meals. - Remember that there are children living in circumstances where a daily mug of Likuni Phala porridge in school can transform a life.

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Join in the World’s Biggest Porridge Breakfast! Mary’s Meals Fundraising Ideas for World Porridge Day There are all sorts of ways Mary’s Meals supporters can use World Porridge Day to spread the word about Mary’s Meals and raise some funds at the same time.

Here are just a few ideas: Churches – how about organising a porridge breakfast after your Sunday ser vice. Distribute mugs or bowls of porridge in return for a donation.

Schools – Why not ask pupils to design and try out healthy toppings for a mug of porridge, you could try honey, raisins, bananas, or something a bit different like cinnamon and mango. Porridge re-heats well, so if it’s not possible for the kids to use a stove, perhaps you could prepare some in advance and just pop it in the microwave at school.

Work – take in some flapjacks and tempt your colleagues into a donation. Community – porridge stalls inviting donations to Mary’s Meals could be set up at village fetes, shows, sporting events.

Families – a simple breakfast instead of a Sunday treat and donate the money saved to Mary’s Meals?

NB You don’t have to restrict your event to Sunday 11th October – it could take place in the week leading up to World Porridge Day or the week after! If you do organise something to support Mary’s Meals through World Porridge Day we would love to hear about it and even better see some photos! Contact us on: and keep an eye on for more ideas and news on this and other fundraising events. More about World Porridge Day here -

“I do not worry about being hungry anymore because the porridge is filling...” Cosmas, a Standard 7 pupil from Malawi

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Mary's Meals Christmas Gifts & Cards

A generous supporter is producing a Mary's Meals Calendar and this will be on sale from October. There will also be a new Christmas Gift Card available.

Keep an eye on the website for further information. mary’s meals extra

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mary’s meals UK news Material Aid Update Charlotte Peppitt - Material Aid Coordinator

It is my eleventh week working as the Warehouse Manager for Mary’s Meals and every day makes me feel more privileged to be part of such an amazing charity. There is never a dull moment here in the Warehouse and over the last few weeks we have been a hive of happy activity. Firstly, on the 6th of August we sent a container full of Backpacks, T-shirts and educational materials to Malawi. This was my first for Mary’s Meals and it was a very exciting day. Over 10 Volunteers turned up to help and after an anxious hour waiting for the container to arrive, we soon got stuck into the hard work. All the planning, organising and discussions in the weeks leading to this event proved worthwhile and everything went according to plan. I was impressed with how quickly we loaded the container, (less than 4 hours!) and so everyone thoroughly deserved the cakes and biscuits provided! Secondly, we have had many longstanding and some new volunteers sorting clothes for our next container to Romania which is due to go sometime in October. Fuelled with plenty of tea and biscuits (a must for keeping all Volunteers smiling!) these ladies have been fantastic and have so far packed about 40 sacks of clothing for the container. Fr Sylvester from Uganda popped into the Warehouse a few weeks ago which was a lovely surprise for our volunteers. It is always rewarding for them to put a face to the name and to hear the stories of how our aid is used. It really does make it all more ‘real’ as sometimes we get lost in our own bubble over here and forget the faces of those we are working to help. Unfortunately, I missed this visit but couldn’t help but notice the impact on our Volunteers who had renewed vigour and enthusiasm for the task at hand and even bigger smiles on their faces! After much planning Alan, our driver, and Michael, a volunteer, have recently returned from a trip to Ireland to collect over 1100 Backpacks! As the new school term begins we are expecting an influx of backpacks and other donations over the coming months. With a view to sending containers to Romania, Liberia, Uganda as well as another one to Malawi by the end of the year, these donations will be invaluable. So the next few weeks are going to be busy here in the warehouse as we sort through donations and prepare for the next container. Contact for more information on material aid donations

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Mary’s Meals Wales Nick Barton WAG staff say "yes" to Mary's Meals Welsh Assembly Government staff located throughout Wales has chosen Mary's Meals as their International Charity. This means that over 6,000 workers now have the opportunity to donate via their payroll giving system. The charity will also benefit from a series of fundraising events that staff will be organising throughout the year.

Mary's Meals chosen as International Charity

Inner Wheel, Rotarians and Soropomists We have been invited to give talks to a number of meetings of these organisations. Members of the Inner Wheel at their annual meeting in Llangollen chose Mary’s Meals as their Charity for the year and over 40 ‘groups’ from North Wales and the Wirral are working to raise funds for us.

Head Teachers of Cardiff secondary schools We have also had the opportunity to give a Mary’s Meals presentation to 20 of Cardiff’s Head Teachers at their annual conference. We hope this will lead to many schools taking part in the Backpack project and getting involved with Mary’s Meals.

We are looking forward to working with the University of Newport. We are seeking a student volunteer who will act as an Ambassador for the Charity organising fund raising events and representing the Charity within the University. The position is already advertised on the website and interviews for prospective candidates are scheduled for October.

Mary's Meals Wales events blog

School Volunteer programme – Pupils who are taking the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification have to engage in 30 hours of ‘Community projects or Voluntary work’ and Marys Meals Wales have created a 30 hour programme for candidates that will involve them in organising a Backpack Project within their own school. This will create a challenging environment for the pupils and generate more material aid (backpacks) for us!

Prydau Mary Cwmru BLOG – Mary’s Meals Wales now has its own Blog page, where ‘Welsh’ events and donations are mentioned. Comments and ideas for inclusion within the Blog are most welcome. Contact E: T: 01633 420321 M: 07824536745

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UK News round-up The 20p that went a long way A shiny piece of good news from parishioners at St Mary’s Church, Dalmahoy, near Edinburgh, who found an undated 20p coin in their Mary’s Meals collection. Geoff Angell, who counts and banks monies collected in demi-john jars at the church, heard that the Royal Mint was on the look-out for coins from a batch which had been mistakenly released – and found one in the collection. He sent it in and received a £50 cheque in return - a bonus gift from a parish that is always working hard for its sponsored school, Dole Primary in Malawi. Mary’s Meals always does its best to make money go a long way, but this must be the first time anyone has been able to feed eight children for a year for just 20 pence!

Don’t forget to send us your photos. Between now and the end of the year we are running a competition. There will be a prize for the best photo featuring a Mary's Meals T-shirt - so get snapping and send your digital photos to: Forthcoming events Our shop on Duke Street in Glasgow is launching a new Retro and Vintage section. These stylish bargains will be available for the first time at the launch party, from 6:30pm on October 7. If you’re in town, please pop along – or come to the shop at any time. Supporters in the London area are invited to attend a meeting at Our Lady of Muswell Church Hall, Muswell Hill, London, from 10:30 to 2pm on September 26. It will be a chance to exchange ideas, hear about the charity’s work from Magnus and Abeer, and help us to plan our next steps in the south of England. Please e-mail Catherine Gallagher

Wanted: van drivers (and vans) to help us turn rags into riches We are on the look out for volunteer drivers who can spare a few hours on a Sunday to pick up textile donations from churches in Glasgow and central Scotland. Volunteers will meet and collect their vans near Glasgow airport, before travelling to a pre-arranged parish to join members of our raffle team and collect bags of second-hand clothes and other materials. Our ‘rags to riches’ scheme generates a lot of income for Mary’s Meals, by re-using, reselling and recycling unwanted textiles, and the driving team is at its heart. We aim to build a pool of volunteers, asking them to consider working about one Sunday a month. At the moment, the vans we use for rags to riches pick ups are hired at a commercial rate. We would be very grateful for the loan – or reduced cost hire – of vans on Sundays, to allow us to save this money and spend it directly on projects. Visions in turquoise The latest Mary’s Meals T-shirts, in bright turquoise with our logo on the back, have been delivered to our head office in Dalmally. The T-shirts, designed by Netta Ewing and donated by Primark, have already made their way to supporters in the United States, and several thousand were sent on the latest container to Malawi for volunteers there. Now we want to see them being worn by our friends across the UK. If you are an existing fundraiser or speaker, if you’re organising an event, or you are about to run a marathon or climb a mountain for Mary’s Meals, please get in touch and we’ll make sure that you have a T-shirt to wear for the occasion.

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Artists for Mar y’s Meals takes place at the Iain MacGregor Fine Art Gallery, 5th Floor, 34 West George Street, Glasgow (nr Queen Street Station) from 5 to 12 September. The free exhibition features the work of artists including Jolomo, Jimmie MacGregor and Tom Pomeroy and there will be live music too. The gallery will be open until 9pm.

As part of the World Porridge Day activities, we plan to hold an auction of mugs (symbolic for us because of their connection to the mugs children eat from in Malawi) donated by celebrities and high profile figures. Our aim is to raise some money, but also to raise awareness about Mary’s Meals and its work. If you know someone in the public eye who might be prepared to help Mary’s Meals by donating an old mug (perhaps a favourite they no longer use, or an odd one out that doesn’t match a set) we would appreciate it if you could approach them on our behalf. If you would like help drafting a letter/e-mail or want to know more about the auction, contact

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news from the global mary’s meals family Mary’s Meals support from Down Under New Zealand – we have a number of loyal supporters in Lower Hutt and we thank them for their donations and their prayer support of Mary’s Meals. After reading about Mary’s Meals in the ‘Universe’ newspaper, Baz Hailes from Christchurch decided he wanted to get involved. He runs several shops including a ‘Free Shop’ that recycles everything from paint to books and gives away surplus goods, and intends to donate any profit from the operation to Mary’s Meals. Thank you Baz!

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Australia – donations continue to come in from generous individuals many in response to articles in the Medjugorje Sentinel. Our thanks to the team who produce this publication for including Mary’s Meals as you do. Efforts are still being made to register Mary’s Meals as a charity in Australia.

And new groups starting... Zeljka Markic’ connections with the work of Scottish International Relief (the registered charity that administers Mary’s Meals in the UK) go back a long way. During the years of war in Bosnia and Croatia her father Dr Maria Zivkovic in Zagreb, Croatia received regular deliveries of aid from SIR. He distributed this aid to the refugee families that had poured into the city to escape from the conflict. At the Mary’s Meals conference in Medjugorje this June, Zeljka recalled how as a young girl she had felt about these deliveries of aid from Scotland. Today she is leading the way in setting up Mary’s Meals Croatia. “I was so excited to help the people that once helped me. Now things are better in Croatia. Now it is our turn to help. One day it will be Africa’s turn to help you. I did not want to help a big charity which, in my experience, are less effective. I wanted to help because I trusted Magnus and SIR. My husband, he stands up and says to people Mary’s Meals feeds this many people, in this many countries. I say to people, these are the same people who sent us diapers during the war! People here remember SIR and want to give back.” Their website is coming soon!

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Mary’s Meals Austria We live astonishing events around the backpack project! We had originally planned to begin the project in and around Vienna in fall. In June, we began putting the info onto the website and the project began already.

Mid June a maths teacher from a Viennese primary school for children 10 to 14 years old told me that 100 backpacks would be ready for collection by the end of June. In fact there were 105 Backpacks which the pupils had collected. This school hosts children of which 90% are foreigners. When I arrived to give thanks with small Mary's Meals stickers, the school director told me that all 300 pupils together with their parents had participated in the project enthusiastically, in spite of the fact that many of the immigrant's children live in poor circumstances and certainly did not find it easy to get the backpacks and to fill them. Every child received a Mary's Meals sticker from their teacher together with their annual grade report a few days later. Nearly at the same time, a school director from Graz contacted me. The school hosts children of 6 to 10 years of age. She told me that backpacks were being collected in her school, ready to be collected by the beginning of July. I asked her how she came to know of the project, and she answered me that a ten year old boy had discovered the backpack project while surfing on the internet. His enthusiasm was contagious for the whole school. The 50 backpacks they collected have arrived in Vienna in the meantime. It is truly astonishing, yes fascinating how the idea of Mary's Meals can motivate people. Heartfelt greetings from Vienna, Christian

And Lisi Baier from Saalfelden-Salzburg tells us: I am concentrating on collecting donations and on Mary's Meals itself. This works well. The next big event we are planning is to organise a big advent-market for Mary's Meals. We look forward to that very much. Parishes ask us regularly to present the whole Mary's Meals project. The interest is very big, and reaches as far as "Vorarlberg", a very popular skiing and holiday region. Many come for their holidays, see some flyer and then we get the phone calls from all over. They wish to know more, to get DVDs, help to spread the word with leaflets etc. Isn't that fantaaaastic !! Contact E:

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Mary’s Meals Ireland Each week brings emails from new people wanting to get involved with Mary’s Meals in Ireland. So the word is really spreading. In May John Pridmore spent a week with Magnus and Fr Garry in Liberia, seeing firsthand the work of Mary’s Meals being carried out there. He visited primary schools where he shared in the daily meal with the children and also went to speak to 200 young men in their late teens and early twenties who were drafted into the civil war and forced to fight as children soldiers for General Taylor. Some of the young men had seen horrific violence at very young ages, but they were all back in school under the care of Fr. Gary who has been working with the Gola people for over 30 years. On the plane journey home Magnus asked John what his impression of Liberia was. With much emotion he said how he was humbled by the incredible amount of love that he had witnessed. Even though so many of these young men and women had witnessed and experienced great hardships and the horrors of war since their youth, they had a resilience and a capacity to love which was truly astounding. That visit was covered by The Catholic Times and BBC Radio, which gave us great press coverage on a national level about John’s visit. The Back Pack Project has now been implemented in over 100 schools and our last shipment of 1,200 backpacks was collected in August. We are delighted to be joined by Padraig Keogh who will be who will be helping us to promote the Backpack Project from his base in Dublin. No doubt this will lead to even more gifts of Backpacks from the people of Ireland.

And… Two new support groups have formed in the past month, one in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, and the second in Derry City, Northern Ireland....If anyone is interested in setting up a support group in their parish or community to help the work of Mary’s Meals please contact Fr. Owen Gorman on 00353-486-775-1231 and he can answer any queries you may have. For more info please call 00 353-87-362-3996 or email

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Mary’s Meals Germany By Ursula Schwarz, Mary’s Meals Germany In the beginning of this year we started the Backpack project for the first time in Germany. It was an adventure for us, as we did not know what to expect and how many schools would react. We were unbelievably lucky! A center which administers all the schools of our region called RheinlandPfalz, was ready to send a mail to every school. This was the initial spark. The schools responded with great trust as the center supported us. In the mean time we collected 5300 backpacks which should be shipped to Liberia in the next weeks. We are curiously waiting to see how many backpacks will fit into the container, as our backpacks are made of hard plastic and are much bigger than the Scottish ones. The amount of backpacks collected varied greatly from School to School. One school had collectd 2 the other one 375. In Germany we are a small team of three people: Peter Wenke, Stephan Scholz and myself. Luckily members of our families and friends helped us with this great and grand project. My own pupils keep on asking since a while whether the backpacks are in Africa. I kept on reassuring them. I hope that by the end of September I shall be able to say, Now they are in Liberia!” For more info call 0700/8086 8086 or email info@mar

Mary’s Meals Italy In Italy, Mary’s Meals continues to sow seeds. We are distributing new leaflets explaining the activity and goals of Mary’s Meals to selected people who, in turn, have said they would give them to other people who may be interested. There have been encouraging signs, with some important donations received. In the medium term, we would like to organize a small Mary’s Meals event in Italy with the participation of the founder Magnus and other speakers. This event, which could take place in a parish or in another unit, could be the key to make Mary’s Meals known to many in this country. For more information - T: +39 06-98359866, E: info@mar W: www.mar

Medjugorje Pilgrims to Medjugorje from all over the world continue to find us at the Mary’s Meals Information Point. Our team here had the joy of welcoming an unexpected volunteer. She is Magalie from the Island of "Reunion" which is located close to Madagascar and Mauritius. Magalie helped us to welcome pilgrims from different nationalities, who came to find out about Mary’s Meals. She will leave this week, and we shall miss her very much. One day, a gentleman parked his car in front of our door. He had just arrived and did not come to Medjugorje as such. He just spotted us and wished to know where we work in Africa, as he is about to travel around Africa by car. He watched a DVD about our family gathering, and appreciated Liesbeth*s work in Liberia. He watched her whole talk, and after that left us again. He went on his journey, we back into the cafe. We do not know his name; just that he came from Great Britain, and somehow was on his way to Africa via this little cafe...We have noticed that many Italians have come to discover us.... we hope this is good news for your work Augusto in Italy! Best wishes from Milona, Laurence and Megi E: T: +387 (0)36651206

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Mary’s Meals USA

“As an attorney, Albert J. Holder spends his days immersed in corporate law and commercial litigation, but he also has found a way to use his legal skills to help children in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

Lots of fundraising for Mary’s Meals going on in America. In July supporters in Chicago attended a summer fund-raising party hosted by Beverly and Stephen Scarr. The guests listened to a description of the work Mary’s Meals is doing in Malawi and enjoyed a wonderful slide show that really brought the project to life. The aim of the party was to raise money as part of the Sponsor A School scheme to cover the cost of feeding the pupils who attend Njedza school in Malawi. Last year this group successfully fundraised to build a kitchen at this school. The event was a huge boost and they are well on their way to reaching their $20 000 target. “We are just so grateful to all the generous supporters and the Chicago Committee is already planning a similar event to take place in the Fall” Meanwhile supporter Jennifer Sentz from Loretto, Pennsylvania asked friends, family and colleagues to celebrate her 30th birthday by donating to Mary’s Meals. Her aim is to raise money to Sponsor A School. Her plea worked and donations have started to come in. She has a sponsored event planned for later this year. Best of luck Jennifer! Albert Holder from Miami has been key to establishing Mary’s Meals in America. Thanks to his hard work, Mary’s Meals USA was incorporated and received its exemption status from the Internal Revenue Service. This makes contributions tax deductible for potential US donors. The current issue of The Franciscan Way magazine carries an article describing his involvement. As a former student of the Franciscan University of Steubenville Albert suggested the Franciscan Way magazine (published by the University quarterly) might want to cover Mary’s Meals. The current issue carries a lovely article about Albert – and this lovely photo of him and his family!

For more info contact: E: W:

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who we are 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 hungry 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 375,000 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


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