In a new film, Love Reaches Everywhere, Scottish actor Gerard Butler tells the story of Mary’s Meals, a charity that feeds almost 1.7 million schoolchildren all over the developing world. Its mission is simple: ‘Every child deserves an education – and enough to eat.’
Inspired by his Catholic faith, Magnus McFarlane-Barrow started in 1997 by helping with the provision of aid during the Bosnian War, and he went on to establish Mary’s Meals in Liberia.
Butler was deeply moved by the backstory of how McFarlane-Barrow got involved with supporting school children in Liberia, where less than half of the children attend school, but where enrolment in certain schools increased by 40% when Mary’s Meals started serving food in them.
Using locally grown food, and local solutions, Mary’s Meals feeds children at their schools. As of 2020 the charity feeds almost 1.7 million children a day. In the developing world the provision of basic education can help break the poverty cycle for families.
Gerard Butler returned a second time to observe Mary’s Meals operations, this time in Haiti, a country undergoing severe difficulties and violence. Mary’s Meals works alongside Haitian schools to support a new generation of children. According to Marie-Flore Chipps, executive director of Summits in Haiti, “educated children are much less likely to riot and cause violence.”
The film shows how Butler visited a school in Mirebalais, Haiti, which had recently started receiving Mary’s Meals. Drawing on his own professional skills, he directed a Nativity play with the children using whatever materials the school had as costumes and stage props.
Another success story highlighted by this faith inspired initiative recounts how a hill-top school in Haiti was founded by a person who had originally enrolled to become literate and, when adequately educated, became principal of that school. That school now receives the help of Mary’s Meals.
One school in Haiti was unable to provide children with food and, as a result, the enrolment in the school dropped significantly. When one local mother was asked if she had any fears resulting from being unable to feed her children, her response was that she fears nothing because of her deep faith in God. Gerard Butler decided to personally fund the school that was not receiving Mary’s Meals in order to help the community and encourage school enrolment.
Watch the full film here: https://www.marysmeals.ie/lovereacheseverywhere