By chance, Mary’s Meals founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, came across a ward full of abandoned children with HIV while delivering aid to a hospital in Romania.
The scene he discovered horrified him. “There are two things I will always remember about that ward – the total silence and the stench. Afterwards someone explained to me that if you leave a child long enough it will give up even crying.” Magnus left determined to help these and other abandoned children. Although school feeding is the core of our work we occasionally provide residential care for children when funds allow and when this complements our Mary’s Meals programme.
Iona House in Romania is the home Mary’s Meals set up for HIV positive abandoned children. Thanks to a generous donation from UK entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne we were able to build a second home nearby. Contrary to the dismal predictions given to their natural families that resulted in the institutionalisation of the children in the first place, the children have blossomed when no longer deprived of love and care. Over the years the children have become young adults. While some will need ongoing care and support, others have been able to step out into the world on their own. We have had the joy of seeing several marry and look forward to having families of their own.