BY Ian Dunn | October 6 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


One billion meals

Charity founded by Catholic Scot hits landmark milestone

Mary’s Meals, the global charity that was born in Scotland and is named after Our Lady, gave a hungry child a meal for the billionth time this week.

The meal was served to 12-year-old Mohsin at the Sangam Vihar Informal Education Centre in Noida, India.

Founded by Scottish Catholic Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals began by feeding just 200 children at a school in Malawi in 2002, but has since grown into a global movement providing a meal to more than 1.2 million children across 14 countries every school day.

The charity has received huge practical and financial support from Scotland’s Catholics ever since it launched.


Big numbers

“While Mary’s Meals isn’t really driven by big numbers, this is a remarkable milestone,” Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said. “One billion meals served—that’s a number almost too big to comprehend and one that has been reached simply by focusing on one child, one meal at a time.

“Every one of those meals is the result of a series of little acts of love carried out by a chain of people all over the world—volunteers who raise awareness and fundraise, people who donate money, those who pray for our work and, of course, the army of local volunteers who cook and serve for the children in their own communities.”

The Church and the Scottish Government have praised the Mary’s Meals milestone.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said it was ‘a fantastic achievement to have served one billion meals to kids going to school.’

“As I saw for myself in Malawi earlier this year, a mug of porridge can make a big difference in the life of a child,” he said. “It’s a simple but effective way to change the world. It’s the Gospel in action.”

The Scottish Government’s international development minister Alasdair Allan said: “Mary’s Meals is an incredible Scottish success story and it has inspired millions around the world.

“It is not only helping to feed children but it’s helping to educate an entire generation. Serving up its billionth nutritious meal is a fantastic achievement.

“The Scottish Government is proud to have supported Mary’s Meals feeding programmes in Malawi since 2005 with more than £2 million in funding, which has provided 43,000,000 hot meals for more than 73,000 school children.”

Mohsin, the recipient of the billionth meal, lives with his parents and five siblings in the impoverished Indian slums of Sangam Vihar.

Due to his mother’s illness, Mohsin sells rat poison at the local market after school to help support his family. Like so many children around the world, Mohsin relies on Mary’s Meals for a guaranteed daily meal each school day.

“I wake up in the morning and sometimes there is no food,” Mohsin said. “I get ready, wash myself and go to school. In school, we are guaranteed food. From the food, we get strength, we get energy. It’s like life comes back to my body. We are able to study.”


Burning bright

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow added: “While we celebrate this milestone, we do so painfully aware that more than 61 million children are still out of school because of poverty and hunger—working, begging or doing whatever it takes to survive—and therefore missing out on the education that can be their escape. Our vision, that every child in this world might enjoy at least one good meal every day in their place of education, burns more brightly than ever, and in many ways our work has only just begun.”

It costs just £13.90 to provide a child with a meal for one school year.


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