The founder and director of Mary’s Meals tells how that charity began and how it has grown into an organization that feeds hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in countries around the world.
In 1992, MacFarlane-Barrow and his brother, raised in a devout Catholic family in Scotland, drove a truck filled with emergency supplies of food, clothing, and medicine to war-torn Bosnia. They were drawn there after visions of the Virgin Mary had reportedly delivered messages from God so powerful that his parents had converted their hunting lodge to a house of prayer. On their return to Scotland, the emergency relief effort expanded as donations continued to pour into their parents’ shed, and MacFarlane-Barrow was soon working full time managing a charity now registered as Scottish International Relief. Meeting with famine relief officials in Malawi in 2002, the author describes how he was struck by the words of a child who said his dream was to have enough to eat and to go to school. SIR began funding school feeding projects in places where poverty and hunger prevented children from going to school. As the author explains, the projects are community-run by volunteers and support the local economy, while the inducement of a free meal brings in children who would not otherwise get an education. In 2012, SIR changed its name to Mary’s Meals, naming it after the Virgin Mary. Writing with enthusiasm, humility, and seemingly bottomless optimism and goodwill, MacFarlane-Barrow shares credit generously with those who shaped his vision and helped him along the way. Quotations that open each chapter generally feature the words of religious figures, but Yeats and Lincoln also appear.
Certain to be a successful fundraiser, this somewhat rambling account is jampacked with convincing details of the author’s experiences and portraits of people he admires.