Convoy Parish Priest Fr Eamonn Kelly has released a new book of hope-filled poetry to raise funds for Mary’s Meals.
The book, ‘Please Feed a Child’ tells the stories of children and communities impacted by the school feeding charity in impoverished counties, and of the volunteers and kind donors who make the plans a reality.
Fr Kelly, chairman of the Mary’s Meals Ireland board, drew on his eye-opening experience in Zambia in 2019 as he put pen to paper.
“I’ve been talking about Mary’s Meals for 11 years. I hoped it was as good and I was saying it was. Now I can put my hand on my heart and say it was actually better than what I can even describe,” Fr Kelly told Donegal Daily.
Mary’s Meals is based on a simple solution to world hunger. Children are provided a daily meal in their place of education. A guaranteed meal for the day attracts a child to the classroom, where they can receive an education that could one day free them from poverty.
“The changes Mary’s Meals are making in children’s’ lives is massive,” Fr Kelly said.
“They are coming to school in bigger numbers, because they are getting fed they are fit to concentrate and study that wee bit better.”
After witnessing the community-owned project first hand, Fr Kelly began to write poems, reflections and stories. Once he had enough, he compiled them together with photographs into a captivating and illustrative book.
Fr Kelly’s prose celebrates the entire community that makes Mary’s Meals what it is – from the volunteers in villages cooking the meals to the volunteers in Ireland walking to Knock, holding raffles and jumping out of planes to raise funds.
“Poetry is not everybody’s cup of tea, but my poetry is simple, straight-forward language,” Fr Kelly explained.
Most of his words are filled with hope, some verses have humour, but Fr Kelly’s writings also questions the injustice of world hunger.
“I saw myself in a child of Zambia. They were allowed to ask us questions, the first question in all the schools was, a very sad question: ‘Would the food stop?’
“Then when they were reassured, the next question was from a boy asking: ‘Could you put more sugar into it?’
“That’s me, with the sweet tooth!
“Lots of people talk about the third world, there is no such place, there is only one world. Some of us were born into rich countries and some born into poverty and it is just so unfair and so unjust.
“We have plenty of resources to change world poverty, Mary’s Meals is a simple solution to world poverty. If we can get children educated they can break their own cycles of poverty.”
It costs just €18.30 to feed a child for an entire school year.
“The efficiency is hard to describe,” Fr Kelly said. “It’s all based on volunteerism, they have a great system set up of when they go into a school area they make sure all the people in the village know what they are doing, they look for volunteers to gather the firewood, collect the water, to do the cooking. That reduces our cost because it is all volunteerism. The head of the towns and villages want it and when the leaders want it, the people back it.
“They also buy in bulk and buy from the local farmer if at all possible, that means the money is going into the community.”
The charity is making a huge difference to the lives of girls, Fr Kelly noted.
“In the poor countries they say, ‘What is the point of educating a girl?’, sure in a few years she will be having wains and that is their job in life.
“It’s going to take a couple of generations to break that poor thinking. With Mary’s Meals, the girls are getting a chance because people are saying it is not costing us to educate that girl.
“Every child deserves that chance.”
Fr Kelly is hopeful that ‘Please Feed a Child’ can be an enjoyable read that gives people an insight into the life and hope behind Mary’s Meals. All proceeds from the book will be donated to the charity’s activities.
“If people read the story of Mary’s Meals I hope that they would be aware of what is possible,” Fr Kelly said.
“I know I can’t do much about 16 million children, but I can feed one with €18.30.”
“We started with 200 children in 2002, we are now feeding 1,667,067 children and by the end of the year we are predicting we will be feeding 2 million.”
Please feed a child is out now at a cost of €6.10. The sale of three copies will feed a child for a whole school year (€18.30).
To order your copy or copies please contact Fr Eamonn by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (087) 907 7985. Alternatively, contact by post: Fr Eamonn Kelly, Parochial House, Convoy, Co Donegal.
Copies are also available from any supporter of Mary’s Meals Donegal.Tags: