All our volunteers make valuable contributions to our work around the world. Here are some of their stories.
Alastair, warehouse volunteer
Retired engineer Alastair found he had some time on his hands. Lucky for us, he began volunteering at the Mary’s Meals warehouse in Glasgow. 14 years later and counting, he’s still there!
He helps collect and sort through all of the backpacks in our warehouse. Nowadays he’s also a full time carer for his elderly aunt and the two days a week he spends at Mary’s Meals is his respite.
“We have a great laugh working together in the warehouse and I thoroughly enjoy my time here,” says Alastair, “but it’s important to me that the charity is making a difference, too.
“I’m very involved with The Backpack Project side of things and I love seeing the joy on the kids’ faces when they receive their backpacks ─ it really is a very simple way to make a child very happy, and give them the chance to learn at the same time.”
Michelle, shop volunteer
Michelle started volunteering with us by packing locally-donated aid with our founder Magnus and his family for delivery during the Bosnian War. Later, when a Mary’s Meals charity shop opened in Oban, Scotland, she began to volunteer there.
Over a decade later, Michelle’s still with us and two or three times each week helps with sorting donations, pricing items, preparing textiles for recycling, serving customers, and answering questions about our work.
“The shop is so fun,” she says. “There are around 12 of us working different shifts to cover the six days we are open and it feels as if we’re a family.
“You really get to know the local people too. It’s nice that we can help them to find what they want to buy and at the same time we are helping hungry children to improve their futures.”
As well as raising valuable funds from every sale, the Oban shop also carries out fundraising to cover the annual feeding costs at Chisombezi Primary in Malawi, where over 1,930 children receive a nutritious cup of likuni phala every day they attend.
Angela, clothing collection volunteer
Angela recently joined our London network of volunteers and now delivers short talks about our work in churches around the city.
She invites parishioners to bring donations of old clothes and textiles to their Sunday service, which we then convert into cash to be spent on our vital work.
“Mary’s Meals is such an inspiring, productive charity and I love helping out for a couple of hours a week doing something straightforward,” says Angela.
“It’s very motivating to hear the practical results of just a few hours of my time.”
Rose, volunteer cook in Malawi
Rose Kadabwa is a Malawian single mother of five. She’s been bringing up her family alone ever since her husband left them.
In the past, there were days when the whole family would go without a meal.
But then Mary’s Meals came along and Rose now volunteers at the Khola school just outside of Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre.
She gets up every morning at 5am to make the school meals and helps to serve over 1,016 children who attend the primary school.
The promise of a hot school meal each day means Rose can send her children to school knowing they’ll be fed and that they’ll receive an education at the same time.
“I’m so happy to be a volunteer, to know my children are coming to school and getting fed,” explains Rose.
“I will remain a volunteer forever,” she laughs. “Even when my children have left school I will stay.”
More than 80,000 volunteer cooks support our school feeding programme in Malawi alone. Their endless love and support is helping to educate Malawi’s next generation and provide them with a ladder out of poverty.