I first found out about Mary's Meals while searching for a charity in England to donate a box of our Kawaii Päc mini backpacks. Our warehouse mistakenly shipped a full carton of the wrong color to a retailer in London and rather than shipping the box back to the U.S., I was hoping these backpacks could go to children in need through a local charity. By an online search, I came across Mary's Meals and was instantly moved by their story, how the name was inspired and how their focus is on helping to feed the world's poorest children with a meal everyday at school.
I knew our 25 Remi Kawaii Päcs had found their new home when I discovered they also have a campaign called The Backpack Project where donated backpacks filled with school supplies are often the only gift the children receiving Mary's Meals will receive. Their story even inspired my son to want to help by asking for fewer gifts on his 12th birthday and the money to go instead to helping the children.
"We are a no-frills charity with a simple idea that works: by providing one good meal in a place of learning, children are drawn into the classroom where they can receive an education that could one day free them from poverty.
Mary’s Meals is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, who brought up her own child in poverty. We consist of, respect and reach out to people of all faiths and of none.
Our vision is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education. Working together, we believe that can be achieved in this world of plenty." –quote from Mary's Meals
Founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow grew up in Argyll, Scotland. In 1983, his family made a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and their Catholic faith was revived. When the Bosnian War started in 1992, Magnus and his brother felt moved to help and they started taking local donations. Food, clothing, medicine and donations of money started to arrive at their home. Taking a week leave from work, they bought a second hand car and joined an aid convoy to deliver the donated items to Medjugorje.
After returning home to Scotland, they planned to return to their jobs as fish farmers but donations kept pouring in. So Magnus decided to take a year off to continue to drive out aid to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The public donations did not stop so it became necessary for Magnus to start a charity: The Scottish International Relief. From 1992-2002, they delivered over $17 million in aid, helping orphans in Romania, refugees in Liberia and continued material aid to victims in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzogivina.
While in Malawi for a famine relief, Magnus met a dying woman named Emma and she prayed that someone might care for her six young children after her death. When Magnus asked her oldest son, Edward, what he hoped for in life, he replied, "I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day." These words helped inspire Magnus to create Mary's Meals, now serving over a million children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.
To learn more about Mary's Meals and how you can also help and get involved, please visit: www.marysmeals.org. Also watch and share the inspiring short film, Child 31 here: www.marysmeals.org/get-involved/book-and-films/child-31
Photo credits: Mary's Meals