Beginnings of Mary’s Meals
Mary’s Meals began in 2002 as a one-off school feeding programme. Today we provide daily life changing meals to over 600,000 hungry children.
During 1992 two brothers, Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow from Scotland, watched the TV news from the Bosnian conflict with increasing horror. They were so moved that they decided to organise an appeal for food and blankets.
They quickly gathered a jeep load, joined one of the convoys leaving the UK, and delivered the aid to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a place of international pilgrimage which they had visited with their family years previously. Believing their good deed done, they returned to their home in Argyll expecting to resume their jobs as fish farmers. However they came home to discover that public donations had continued to flood in, filling their parents’ shed with goods.
Magnus decided to give up his job for a year to drive the aid out to Bosnia for as long as the public kept donating. The public did not stop and it soon became necessary to set up a registered charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR). The charity soon expanded and began to work in Romania, building homes for abandoned children, and in Liberia, helping returning refugees by setting up mobile clinics, while continuing to deliver material aid to Croatia and Bosnia, and funding additional projects.
In 2002, SIR was operating a simple famine relief project in Malawi when Magnus met a family that led to a whole new area of work. The mother was dying of AIDS and lying on the floor of her hut surrounded by her six young children. She said that all that was left for her was to pray for her children, that someone might look after them after she had died.
When Magnus asked her oldest son what he hoped for in life, his stark reply, “To have enough food to eat and to go to school one day,” was not easily forgotten.
This was a key part of the inspiration that led to the Mary’s Meals campaign, which aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. In this way the children are encouraged to gain the education that can lift them out of poverty in later life.
This simple but effective idea has gathered momentum and today provides meals to impoverished children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America.
In 2012, Scottish International Relief officially changed its registered charity name to Mary’s Meals.
Story of Mary’s Meals Film