This week Hollywood star Gerard Butler visited Liberia, the second poorest country in the world, to volunteer for charity Mary’s Meals. He spent four days preparing and serving food to children, dancing with local villagers, playing football with the kids, taking a maths class of orphans, loading trucks with sacks of rice and planting pepper seeds and pineapples at a school garden.
The charity Mary’s Meals started in 1992 when two brothers Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow, watched the Bosnian Conflict on the news with increasing horror. They were so moved that they decided to organise an appeal for food and blankets. Since then, Mary’s Meal has expanded and now feeds over 822,000 children worldwide.
The charity provides one meal a day in a place of learning to attract children to school so that they can receive an education whilst also being fed with what can sometimes be the only food the child will receive that day.
The costs involved? Well it costs just £10.70 to feed a child for a whole year… £10.70! That’s what struck me the most when finding out about Butler’s journey to Liberia and I know people are probably extremely hard up with it being Christmas time but by donating just £10.70 we can provide the very basics to a child and most likely make their year.
Mary’s Meals keeps their running costs down by purchasing locally produced food for use in the meals they serve which in turn supports the local economy (it respects local culture and food preferences) and it avoids incurring extra transport costs. They also do this by employing volunteers into every aspect of the organisation and by not wasting money on anything that is not absolutely necessary and because of this, 93p of every £1 you donate is spent directly on charitable activities.
On his visit to Liberia, Butler said: “Since 2010, I have come to know Mary’s Meals but had no idea of what that really meant. I have been struck by the strength of peoples’ dignity and what I love about Mary’s Meals is that it is all about retaining this.
They don’t operate a free system where people are just taking; instead it is all about respecting and promoting the lives of people, their culture, and what they are capable of.”
He added: “Every meal is a piece of charity and a little piece of love, and goes into the hearts of the children, feeding and nourishing them. That all passes down into the families 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’.
Over a decade since the war, I see communities full of resilience, integrity, warmth, love and hope. Mary’s Meals is like a little switch that helps flick it on.”
He added: “I wish people could spend one second that I’ve had here in these schools, with these families, as I do think anyone who has had that experience would get way more involved. There is such a direct link between a donation and a nutritious meal for a kid.
Mary’s Meals is helping kids get a great education, and in turn, a better education system can help lift a nation out of poverty.”
If you’d like to donate to Mary’s Meals please click here. Remember, just £10.70 can feed a hungry child for one whole year. It’s Christmas time so let’s remember those who need our help.
Thanks for reading.