Friday, December 20, 2013

How film star Gerard Butler helped poor children in Liberia for Mary's Meals

20 December, 2013

Picture: Chris Watt

During a four-day trip to Liberia in Africa this month, the actor helped cooks prepare and serve meals to school pupils on behalf of Mary's Meals.

Butler loved the experience and said he has been inspired to get more involved with the charity, after he helped out in a school maths class, played football with children and danced with local villagers.

Mary's Meals was set up by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow in a shed in Dalmally, Argyll, but has grown into an international school feeding programme, working in countries where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education. It also sends backpacks filled with school essentials around the world to ensure children can make the most of their time in class.

Scot Butler, 44, presented Mr MacFarlane-Barrow with an award in 2010 and has supported the charity since.

The actor said: "I have come to know Mary's Meals but I had no idea of what that really meant until I came to see what is possible with this organisation and the effect it can have on the lives of so many children.

"One of the things that I have been struck by during this visit is the strength of people's dignity, and what I love about Mary's Meals is that it is all about retaining this. They don't operate a free system where people are just taking; instead it is all about respecting and promoting the lives of people, their culture and what they are capable of.

"I've seen a lot of these communities becoming more energised and alive, and what Mary's Meals does is that it helps create a sense of community that goes way beyond the feeding programme itself."

Mary's Meals has been working in Liberia since 1994 and the school feeding programme in the country is the second biggest run by the charity after Malawi.

It now reaches more than 820,000 children around the world.


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