A very special group of people based in Letterkenny is celebrating a milestone in September.
Mary’s Meals Support Group is five years old.
As most people know, the Letterkenny Mary’s Meals Support Group like to act their age so being ‘five’ they are going to have a wee PARTY to CELEBRATE their fifth birthday.
It takes place on Monday 15th September starting with a Mass of Thanksgiving in St Eunan’s Cathedral at 8 pm. This will be followed by a cup of tea up in the Conference Room.
After being set up in 2009, the support group made a commitment to sponsor a school. This entailed funding the feeding programme being run by Mary’s Meals.
Around 300 pupils attended the John Parvola School, in Liberia. These were fed on a daily basis thanks to funds raised by the group in Letterkenny.
By 2014 the number attending the school has risen to over 800, all of whom are receiving a daily meal thanks to the Mary’s Meals Support Group in Letterkenny.
THE JOHN PARVOLA SCHOOL
The Mary’s Meals Support Group in Letterkenny was established by local businessman Marcus McClintock and vet Gerald Roarty of the Donegal Animal Hospital. Mr Roarty first heard about the Mary’s Meals while he was working in Zambia and Mr McClintock became aware of their good work during a visit to Medjugorje.
They were both impressed with the work undertaken by Mary’s Meals and decided to set up a group. They organised cake sales and bag packing in local supermarkets in a bid to raise funds for the school feeding programme at the John Parvola School where many of the children were ex child soldiers.
Scottish International Relief (which began Mary’s Meals) had worked in Liberia for over ten years, and introduced Mary’s Meals in 2002. This was shortly after the end of the civil war that had devastated the country, including the education system. The war had forced children into becoming soldiers which has left a devastating legacy for their lives and for the country.
Today Mary’s Meals is a global charity. It currently provides a meal every school day for 923,572 children across five continents. The aim of Mary’s Meals is to address the immediate needs of a hungry child by giving him or her something to eat. This enables the child to receive the education that can offer an escape from poverty. The average global cost to feed a child for a whole school year is just €14.50.
In the areas were Mary’s Meals operates, there is a rise in enrolment, attendance and academic performance. Mary’s Meals is a low cost charity that is committed to spending at least 93 cent of every Euro donated on its charitable work. Last year this figure was surpasses and Mary’s Meals spent 95 cent of every Euro donated on tis charitable work
LETTERKENNY MARY’S MEALS SUPPORT GROUP
Letterkenny Mary’s Meals Support Group launched “STEP by STEP to FEED a CHILD” in August 2013. This was a sponsored walk and many of the members walked over 236 km from Malin (Donegal) to Knock (Mayo) to create awareness and raise funds for the charity. This was such a success that many of the group members undertook the walk again this year.
The support group took part in Donegal is happy and has held a number of fundraising events over the last five years including the “M Factor”, a number of table quizzes, coffee mornings, raffles and guest teas. The group has a book (Mercy at Work) and a CD (We can make a difference) on sale. The Chairperson of the Letterkenny Support Group, Fr Eamonn Kelly said ‘Letterkenny Mary’s Meals Support Group are ordinary people trying to make a difference to the lives of our wee brothers and sisters. When we look at the fact that millions of children are starving in the world, many people are so overwhelmed that we do nothing to help. But when we find that with Mary’s Meals we can feed a child in a place of education for €14.50 for a year then we feel that we can make a difference. I like to call Mary’s Meals the ‘do-able charity. I can raise €14.50. I can feed a child. We can improve a child’s life. I am empowered to feed the next child’
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND MARY’S MEALS
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary’s Meals said: “Today, around the world, fifty-seven million children miss school because of poverty. Instead of sitting in a classroom getting an education, they are working in fields, begging on street corners, or scavenging among the garbage to survive.
“Our vision is that every child should be able to receive one good meal every day in a place of education. Working together with people who share our ideals, we believe that our vision can be achieved in this world of plenty, where there is enough food for everyone.”
For more information please contact Letterkenny Mary’s Meals Support Group, Ard Choluim, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
Phone 087 7080736
For more information on Mary’s Meals please visit www.marysmeals.ie or follow the charity on www.twitter.com/marysmeals and on www.facebook.com/marysmeals
* Mary’s Meals began in Malawi in 2002 when its founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow met a young woman called Emma who was dying from AIDS. She was sitting on the mud floor of her hut surrounded by her children. When Magnus asked her 14-year-old son what his dreams were in life, his stark reply was: “To have enough food to eat and to go to school one day”. This was a key part of the inspiration that led to the Mary’s Meals campaign.
Mary’s Meals began feeding 200 children in one Malawian primary school in 2002. Today, the organisation reaches 923,572 children with a daily meal in school, across five continents.