Hollywood actor Gerard Butler has swapped the glitz and glamour of LA to visit one of the world’s poorest countries with Mary’s Meals.
The actor has been a supporter of Mary’s Meals since 2010 when he presented Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow with a CNN Hero award and learned about our vision to reach every child with a nutritious daily meal in their place of education.
His enthusiasm for the work of Mary’s Meals has led him to Liberia where he was able to see our programme in action for the first time and meet some of the 111,551 children receiving a daily meal in school.
Among the highlights of the trip, Butler pitched in to help volunteers cooks prepare and serve up Mary’s Meals, bonded with children, took a class of orphans, played football with kids, loaded a truck with sacks of rice provided by Mary’s Meals, planted pepper seeds and pineapples at a school garden, and danced with villagers.
Butler visited several schools where our feeding programme is already established and witnessed the difference a daily meal can make to the health and energy levels of children and its impact on their ability to learn.
He said: “Since 2010, I have come to know Mary’s Meals but I had no idea of what that really meant until I came to see what is possible with this organisation and the effect it can have on the lives of so many children.
“One of the things that I have been struck by during this visit is the strength of peoples’ dignity and what I love about Mary’s Meals is that it is all about retaining that dignity. They don’t just operate a free system where people are just taking; instead it is all about respecting and promoting the dignity of these people and their culture and what they are capable of.
“What I’m seeing here is that a lot of these communities are becoming more energised and alive, and what Mary’s Meals does is, that it helps create a sense of community that goes way beyond the feeding programme itself.”
Butler added: “Every meal given to these children is a piece of charity and a little piece of love, and goes into the hearts of the children, feeding them physically and nourishing them. That all passes down into the families and into the communities and gives them a sense of hope and that is the difference between a kid saying, ‘I want to survive tomorrow’ and ‘I want to be a doctor’.
“This trip has inspired me to get more involved and hopefully will inspire other people. I wish people could spend one minute in these schools receiving Mary’s Meals, as I think anyone who has had that experience would get way more involved.”
When Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, was recognised by the CNN Hero awards in August 2010, we were supporting 427,580 children with a daily meal in a place of education—today Mary’s Meals is reaching 822,142 impoverished children every school day.
He said: “So often when I meet people and they hear about Mary’s Meals, they tell me they’d like to help. It’s one of the things about my job that never ceases to amaze me.
“When Gerry said he’d be in touch after we met at the CNN awards, I didn’t really expect to hear from him again, until he turned up at our HQ in Dalmally! It’s been great to be able to bring him out to Liberia to see the work of Mary’s Meals is doing here in partnership with schools and communities.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Gerry for helping us to shine a light on Liberia and its potential as the country works hard to carve out a strong, positive future where its children will prosper.”