Laurencekirk and District Inner Wheel held their monthly meeting via Zoom on the 10th November. There was an exceptionally good attendance of 21 members who enjoyed an online video of the work of Charity – Mary’s Meals. This is an international charity, with a simple idea that works. The charity provides one daily meal in a place of learning to attract chronically poor children into the classroom, where they receive an education that can, in the future, be their ladder out of poverty. It is also a charity which the club supports.
The CEO Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow grew up in Argyll, Scotland. In 1983, a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina renewed his family’s Catholic faith and led Magnus’ parents to convert their guesthouse into a retreat centre or ‘Family House of Prayer’.
In 1992 Magnus and his brother Fergus were enjoying a pint in their local pub when they saw TV news reports of the Bosnian conflict. They felt moved to help those suffering.
After spending much of the night talking about ways to support the Bosnian relief effort, the brothers decided to organise a local appeal. Food, clothing, medicines, and donations of money soon began to arrive at their home. They then joined an aid convoy where they delivered the donated goods to Medjugorje.
Magnus decided to give up his job and take a ‘gap year.’ It soon became necessary for him to set up a registered charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR).
Over the next 10 years, SIR expanded. It began building homes for abandoned children in Romania, helped returning refugees in Liberia by setting up mobile clinics, and continued to deliver material aid to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as funding many additional projects.
In 2002 Magnus met a young boy called Edward while SIR was providing famine relief in Malawi who said, “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.”
Edward’s words helped inspire the founding of Mary’s Meals, which aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. The charity is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, who brought up her own child in poverty.
In 2010 Magnus was presented with a CNN Hero award by Hollywood actor Gerard Butler.
In 2012, with school feeding having become the sole focus of its work, SIR officially changed its registered charity name to Mary’s Meals. In 2020, Mary’s Meals are now feeding 1,667,067 of the world’s poorest children every day they attend school.
The ladies were then able to view a 35-minute documentary in which Scottish born Hollywood actor Gerard Butler featured with Mary’s Meals. They were able to see what happened when he swapped the bright lights of Hollywood for classrooms in Haiti and Liberia in a documentary entitled Love Reaches Everywhere.
His first visit was to Liberia to a community where less than half the children attend school. With the support of Mary’s Meals, enrolment increased by 40%. The community were supported in starting a garden and Mums were encouraged to come into the school and cook in the kitchen set up by the charity. Butler befriended a child named” Sunday Boy”, who walked for 10 minutes daily to bring home water by a bucket. The actor was affected emotionally, physically, and spiritually by his visit.
In his visit to Haiti, Butler visited a community in Mirebalais where he directed a Nativity Play. In this school he befriended a child named Wistler aged 9 who carried his baby sister with him to school every day, whilst his parents worked outdoors. For these children education is a priority and a way for them to escape poverty. Their biggest fear is to have no food, but they had complete trust in God.
5 months after his first visit we hear that Gerard Butler has provided funding for one of the schools that had previously lost their funding. The children had not been for 2 years and those that did come, had fallen asleep when there. The transformation was amazing.
For more information about the charity log into https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/
On the 8th December instead of their usual Christmas meal at the Panmure Arms, the club met yet again via Zoom.
A large turnout of the usual membership logged into the Zoom meeting room, suitably attired in festive clothes, and were welcomed by President Frances Wallace.
Secretary Gladys Johnston had co-ordinated the delivery of individual “Goodie Bags”, and afternoon tea prepared by Castleton Farmshop Restaurant.
A game of Bingo was enjoyed by everyone – with Nancy Mackinnon as caller, as well as the club going into “Breakout Rooms”, where the members spent some time engaging in conversations.
The evening concluded with some Christmas Songs, which provided much hilarity due to slow internet connections and connectivity!!!
The club will meet again in January again via Zoom.
Kathleen Murray. Club Correspondent