An international charity that encourages children in Africa to go to school by providing nutritious meals has opened an office in Ireland because of the generosity of Irish people - including a Killenaule man.
Mary’s Meals is a charity which started in Scotland and every day provides up to 860,000 meals to children. Killenaule man Niall Bergin is just one of the charity’s supporters and even though the group had no administrative presence in this country up until recently he has worked for them for almost a year, bringing in much needed fundraising. The young teacher first became involved with the charity when he was in Africa volunteering as a teacher in Tanzania. He had met the founder of Mary’s Meals, Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, in Scotland before he travelled to Africa and when his time in Tanzania came to an end he flew directly to Malawi to volunteer with the children’s charity.
Niall told The Nationalist that the work Mary’s Meals do had stayed in his mind while he was in Tanzania and he wanted to get involved. Each day he helped to prepare and distribute between 6,000 and 7,000 meals. In all he spent six months in Africa before coming home to Killenaule and is now working as a substitute teacher. Niall has continued his support of the charity, sharing dvds of their work and encouraging fundraising. Recently the students of Scoil Ruain in Killenuale raised over €1,200 which they presented to Niall for Mary’s Meals.
“It’s a great charity,” Niall said, explaining that just €10 can feed a child for a whole year in school. For those who want to get an idea of the charity’s work they can look at a short movie on You Tube called ‘Child 31.’
It is thanks to the dedication of Niall, and people like him, that Mary’s Meals has opened an office in Dublin. Even without an official presence here Irish people have already donated €1.3million to the charity, despite our own economic challenges. Niall’s brother Kieran, Tipperary hurler, has also lent his support to the fundraising work.
Since 2007, community groups all over the country have been working hard to spread the word about Mary’s Meals. The charity has been so grateful for the overwhelming support from the people of Ireland it has secured an office at All Hallows College in Dublin and hired its first full-time member of staff in the country—Fundraising Co-ordinator, Aoife Martin.
Mary’s Meals began feeding 200 children in one Malawian school in 2002. They currently reach 868,746 children with a daily meal across five continents. The average cost to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year is just €14.50 and the charity is committed to spending at least 93c of every euro donated directly on charitable objectives, meaning €1.3 million will go a very long way. To find out more about the work of Mary’s Meals, or join in the Irish fundraising effort, contact Aoife Martin on 01852155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.