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8-MARY'S-MEALS-DAY

What a day and what a year for Mary’s Meals

JANE HAMILTON, media and communications officer for MARY’S MEALS, reflects on the success of its most recent event and tells of a new Christmas campaign and a Vatican concert in its honour

Last weekend—Sunday November 22—saw Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall filled with more than 1000 supporters of Mary’s Meals, coming together to do their bit to help feed more impoverished children in school as part of Mary’s Meals Day.

Talented fans of the charity packed the venue’s exhibition space with arts, crafts, home-baking, and gifts—aiming to raise as much as possible for Mary’s Meals while the UK Government is matching all donations. Knitting, crocheted goods, cakes, sweets, Christmas decorations, jewellery, and Mary’s Meals inspired gifts were on sale throughout the day, while a programme of entertainment unfolded in the main auditorium, hosted by radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty.

Mary’s Meals works with some of the world’s poorest communities to set up school feeding programmes, giving hungry children the chance to attend class and learn instead of working or scavenging for food. By providing a daily meal in school, Mary’s Meals attracts children into the classroom where they can receive an education that can provide a route out of poverty. Currently, 1,035,637 children in 12 countries of the developing world receive a meal from the Scottish charity every day they attend school, thanks to the generosity of people all over the world.

The annual Mary’s Meals Day event in Glasgow is always eagerly anticipated by local supporters, and by chance, this year’s celebration took place exactly 14 years since the charity’s founder, MacFarlane-Barrow, first met young Edward—the boy whose words inspired the work and creation of Mary’s Meals. Back in 2002, while visiting Malawi during a devastating famine, Magnus met a 14-year-old boy called Edward, whose mother was dying from AIDS. When Magnus asked him what his hopes and dreams were, Edward replied: “I’d like to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” These words helped to inspire the work of the charity we now know as Mary’s Meals.

And those attending yesterday were able to watch Magnus and Edward meet again, on film, during an exclusive preview of the charity’s new documentary, Generation Hope. The half-hour film follows young adults whose lives have been transformed through Mary’s Meals, focusing on Malawi, India, and Haiti.

The day’s programme began with a live, lone piper playing Highland Cathedral while images of children receiving Mary’s Meals around the world indicated the reach of the charity’s global work. A 52-strong choir from St Mary’s Primary School in Hamilton rocked the hall with heart-warming songs including Bill Withers’ Lean on Me and Paolo Nutini’s High Hopes.

Wrapping up the afternoon’s entertainment was the cast of Cathy Forde’s Mary’s Meals-inspired play, One in a Million, who reunited for a special performance at the event. Local artist Gerard Burns also attended, having launched a special collection of prints to raise money for the charity.

Magnus’ time on stage was spent reflecting on an incredible year, in which Mary’s Meals reached the milestone of feeding more than one million children in school each day, in the face of challenges such as flooding, political unrest, the well-documented Ebola crisis. The message remains clear—this simple intervention is really working, but 59 million children remain out of school because of hunger. The work of Mary’s Meals is just beginning.

One More for Christmas

As we approach the joyful festive season, those looking to share their blessings and reach out with love to children living in poverty can join the Mary’s Meals One More For Christmas campaign (above right), by setting a place at the charity’s virtual dinner table online for just £12.20.

Ordinarily, a donation of £12.20 would provide one child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year, but with the UK Government matching all donations to Mary’s Meals until December 28, setting a place at the One More For Christmas table this year will allow the charity to feed two children in their place of education for a whole school year.

Vatican concert honours the work of Mary’s Meals

Mary’s Meals was the official beneficiary of the XIV Edition of the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art, held from October 28 to November 4 in the Papal Basilicas in the Vatican City and outside the Walls.

A concert—held at the Papal Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls as part of the festival on October 31—is traditionally dedicated to a charity working to support impoverished people around the world. This year, the Foundation Pro Musica e Arte Sacra, which organises the concert, chose Mary’s Meals for the XIV Edition of the International Festival.

The purpose of the festival is to increase the  public’s awareness of the institutional activities of the foundation, which raises funds for the restoration of religious artefacts and buildings.

Speaking at the concert, Cardinal James Michael Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls in Rome, said: “The concert organised by Foundation Pro Musica and Arte Sacra is for Mary’s Meals and the work that Mary’s Meals carries out. Art can certainly save art, but it can also save many needy children as Mary’s Meals does, giving new life and hope to those ones who, otherwise, would not have certainty for tomorrow. I wish the best to Mary’s Meals and to those who work in favour of the poorest of the world.”

—Gerard Burns’ special prints can be purchased for £122 each by visiting: http://www.gerardmburnsprints.com and clicking the Mary’s Meals tab on the website

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