In 2002, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow had been leading Scottish International Relief for 10 years. Among other services, he:
- provided material goods to war-torn Bosnia,
- built orphanages for abandoned babies in Romania,
- and brought emergency food supplies to famine-struck Africa.
It was on a famine relief mission to Malawi, that Magnus met a woman named Emma, and her 6 young children. As Emma lay dying of AIDs, she prayed for someone to care for her soon-to-be orphans.
Magnus asked the eldest child, Edward, what his life’s dream was. He replied “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” (source) From that moment on, Magnus has done everything possible to make Edward’s, and so many other impoverished schoolchildren’s, dream come true.
Today Magnus’ charity, Mary’s Meals is dedicated to building and supporting school feeding programs.
In the developing world, hunger keeps children from learning. A hungry student cannot focus during her lessons. Many children drop out of school, in order to spend more of their day earning or searching for food to survive.
Mary’s Meals provides these children a healthy meal, each and every school day, in their place of education. Feeding impoverished students boosts their attendance, and promotes better learning. Even a primary education was formerly out of reach for so many of the program recipients. Parents and local leaders support higher education achievements, when they know their children will be fed.
Among the causes of global hunger we’ve discussed was the decline of community agriculture. Mary’s Meals recognizes this, and does not seek to import their food supplies. Rather, they support community farmers. by purchasing local food from small farms.
They are building a framework to last long after your donation, not create dependence.
- Buying local food invigorates the local economy.
- Receiving a solid primary education gives children a foundation to higher education. They grow up equipped to support their own communities.
- Mary’s Meals educates and advocates to each nation’s government. Politicians learn an effective, scalable model to provide food to their own country’s schools.
Less than 7% of donations are spent on overheads or fundraising costs. That means 93% of every dollar you donate directly feeds the hungry. (source)
Mary’s Meals has been hugely successful in attaining their vision. Liberian schools participating in the program have seen enrollment increases of 50%. Parents are sending their children to schools like never before, so that their children are assured one healthy meal a day.
Today, 25% of primary schools in Malawi are fed by Mary’s Meals. They feed children in schools and informal places of education in 11 other developing nations, including Haiti, India, and Somalia. Over 1.1 Million children fed each school day.
Ways You Can Help
- When you donate $19.50, Mary’s Meals can feed one child for the entire school year.
- Participate in their One More For Christmas campaign by laying an empty place setting on your table, and making a donation. I can’t think of a better gift to give Jesus on His birthday, than to feed one of his sheep.
- Share information from Mary’s Meals’ Facebook page. Let your friends know about all the real changes they are making in developing nations.
- Buy Magnus’ book “The Shed That Fed A Million Children“. Read the miraculous journey God brought forth, from a painfully-shy salmon farmer in Scotland.
As I read Magnus’ story, I kept thinking of David, the little shepherd boy, or Moses, the son of slaves. God finds his leaders and prophets in the most unassuming places. He doesn’t call only the qualified. Rather, in wisdom surpassing the human understanding, He qualifies and equips those whom he calls.
God convicted Magnus to quit his job and sell his home. He stepped out in faith, not knowing where God’s plan would lead. Today, Magnus is the CEO of a global charity, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and a CNN Hero. Most importantly, his vision and work provide over 1 million nutritious meals to the world’s hungriest children each day.