The Mary's Meals charity was the subject of a biannual study evening for Union of Catholic Mothers members from around the Archdiocese on 8 February.
Bernard and Eileen Dillon, volunteer workers for Mary's Meals, gave a wonderful presentation on the work of the charity which aims "to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day, encouraging education that can lift them out of poverty in later life".
Founded by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the charity is run from a garden shed outside Oban on the west coast of Scotland and operates in 12 countries across four continents, serving 1,300 schools and over one million children. It is a remarkable achievement, and UCM members learned that just £13 could supply one child with meals for a whole year. With food cooked by local volunteers and sourced locally wherever possible, the whole community benefits.
The presentation included a video in which a small boy of 10 or 11 was trying to fold a tattered piece of material he had been lying on, so that it would fit into a little bag. After much effort he succeeded but when he slung the bag onto his shoulder, the strap broke. An audible sigh escaped from the audience – and a few tears as well.
With that video, Bernard and Eileen inspired all 71 attendees to go back to their parishes vowing to help with the charity's latest effort, 'The Backpack Project'. This is a scheme whereby children receive a backpack containing notepad, pencils, pens, crayons and other school items. Thanks must go to those UCM foundations who have already responded by supporting this latest venture from Mary's Meals.
As a separate point, Val Ward, UCM national president, has asked members to look at the alarming recommendations by Dame Louise Casey, a government adviser, concerning the proposals for an 'Oath of British Values'. This can be seen at firstname.lastname@example.org and perhaps the contents could be discussed at meetings and the petition signed. Finally, the next bi-monthly Mass is at St Gregory the Great, Lydiate on Wednesday 8 March at 7.30pm.