Kittie Ross, Louis Herterich, Dolores Kiernan, Patricia Freel (Ex. Director) and Gabrielle Devine Picture: Shelley Corcoran
It is estimated there are 300 million chronically hungry children in the world despite the fact that the world is very well capable of feeding that many people with no difficulty.
59 million children miss school because of poverty. Instead of sitting in school they are working in fields, begging on street corners or scavenging among garbage just to survive. Millions attend school so hungry that they are not able to concentrate and learn.
Mary’s Meals’ vision is that every child should receive one good meal every day in a place of education.
Working together with people who share our ideals – whether individuals, groups or businesses - we believe this vision can be achieved in our world today. 1,667,067 children presently receive a daily meal through Mary’s Meals in school.
This meal is provided for each child, each day of the year, for €18.30. Mary’s Meals are feeding children in Malawi, Liberia, South Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Romania, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Zambia, Syria, Benin, Madagascar, Kenya, India, Haiti, Myanmar and Ecuador.
All money raised is spent in the local area of the schools so that the local population also have a market for their products, that way the local area improves using a system not unlike the Irish Co-op Society system, employed in Ireland in older times.
With all the above in mind, the Longford Branch of Mary’s Meals this year dedicated themselves to raise the much needed funds to help out as many hungry children in these very poorest countries in the world as they possibly could.
The yearly event of the walk to Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock from all points on the map of Ireland was our starting point.
Covid-19 made it a virtual walk for most of the volunteers this year. From Longford to Knock it is 90 Kilometres so a walk of 10 Kilometres for 9 days was undertaken by one to eight people daily, until the 90 Kilometres was completed.
Only Clonguish man John Coppinger undertook the walk from Dublin to Ballyhaunis. Knock was closed for August 15, so John’s walk, under instructions from the Dublin office, had to stop in Ballyhaunis.
We wish to acknowledge and thank John for his great endeavour, all Mary’s Meals volunteers who undertook the walk, a sincere thank you, you are feeding the hungry.
The fund raising was a fantastic success financially. Longford Mary’s Meals Gabrielle Devine Treasurer presented Patrica Freil with a cheque of €24,639.68 on Friday last.
Kitty Ross, Secretary, who started and kept the group going for many years, Louis Heterich, PRO, and Dolores Kiernan, Chairperson, were also there on behalf of all Longford Mary’s Meals volunteers.
That is only the money received up to last week; money is still coming in.
Mary’s Meals in Longford would like to say a very sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed with large or small donations to this great cause.
What happens next? We have a lot of plans but getting together backpacks with basic school requirement from items around most houses is our next priority. If there is an old school bag around your house, it can be filled with a pencil case, copy books, pencils, pens, sharpener, crayons, rubber, ruler and maybe an extra gift of soap, towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, flip flops or sandals, spoon and small ball.
These backpacks may be the only presents these children ever receive, so if a t-shirt, skirt or some other school type clothes could be added it would be a great added bonus. These packs can be dropped into any of the Committee who will look after them until they are collected here in Longford.
We are also looking for more volunteers to make Mary’s meals in Longford an even harder, working thriving organisation. Please feel free to contact any of the committee.
Longford to date will feed 1,346 children for a year so Longford should be very proud of its achievement but not be complacent; it is an ongoing battle that we will keep fighting, with your help.