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Dig a little deeper with Mary's Meals this Christmas

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow - The Tablet - Mon, Jan 2nd 2023

The founder of Mary’s Meals considers the challenges facing the school feeding charity amid a hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions.Dig a little deeper with Mary's Meals this Christmas
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow founded Mary's Meals 20 years ago. It originally fed 200 children in Malawi, but now reaches 2,279,941 in 20 countries..

Mary's Meals

At dawn I walk through the dust with Ekai, his son Elar and their herd of goats towards the Kerio River.

It, at least, is full with water that has fallen many miles from here. On the way we pass Ekai’s unplanted fields. There is no point in him planting anything in the parched cracked earth.

Ekai tells me he has been trying to dig his well even deeper. After four failed rainy seasons and the worst drought in 40 years, many people in Turkana, Kenya, are desperately burrowing into dry riverbeds in search of water.

“My animals are dying and soon my people will die too,” Ekai says, looking at his son Elar, who is herding their goats along the path in front of us.

Today in Turkana, two million children are already acutely malnourished. More than ever here, Mary’s Meals is a lifeline in communities where thousands of pre-school and primary school children eat our precious daily meals.

It is the promise of these meals that draws them in and – along with the education they receive – keeps hope alive of a better future.

Mary’s Meals began 20 years ago by feeding just 200 children in a school in Malawi. Today, we will reach 2,279,941 littles ones in 20 of the world’s poorest countries. It is a beautiful thing – but  our promise is being tested like never before.

The rising price of food and fuel means that the cost to feed a child is going up. As a result, currently the sums don’t add up. The cost to feed children is increasing rapidly and our income isn’t growing at the same rate.

For 20 years, we have been asking for help to reach the next child waiting for Mary’s Meals – and God knows there are more children in urgent need of help than ever before, and we want to reach them as soon as possible.

But first and foremost, I must ask for help to keep the promise we have made to more than 2.2 million children already receiving our meals. And I do this whilst being painfully aware that rising costs are not only putting strain on families in places like Turkana, but that  people here in the UK may be facing financial challenges of their own.

This Christmas, I hope people will consider joining Ekai in digging a little deeper and making a donation that will help us to keep serving the meals on which so many young lives depend.

We want to reach that next child waiting as soon as possible, but first we must stay faithful to those already eating our meals today.

And, to those who are not in a position to support financially at this time, please remember there are other ways you can help – by telling other people about Mary’s Meals, volunteering your time, or praying for all those hungry families.

On behalf of Ekai, his family, and thousands of other families in which hope remains alive because of these life-changing meals we are only able to serve thanks to the support of people here in the UK, I wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas when it comes. 

Join our Big Family Christmas

Every year, we host a virtual Christmas dinner for Mary’s Meals supporters across the globe.

For just £15.90 – enough to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a school year – you can set a place at for yourself or a loved one at our table. Your name will appear online and you’ll receive a beautiful PDF placemat to pass on as a gift.

It feels more important this year, in this world with so many challenges, that we don’t forget the millions of children in this world who are hungry. We can help to change their lives by setting a place at the table and taking part in Big Family Christmas.

And the wonderful news is that, until 31 January 2023, donations to Mary’s Meals are being matched by a generous group of supporters – up to £1.5 million. This means that your Big Family Christmas donation of £15.90 will feed two children with Mary’s Meals every school day for a year!

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