Friday, July 20, 2012

Mary's Meals -- stretching the donated dollar

Mary's Meals (formerly Scottish Relief International) provides meals to impoverished children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America -- usually one meal every school day. The vital nutrition supplied by this charity is often enough to attract girls and boys to school and keep them there long enough to gain the education that will help them to succeed as they grow older. For children under six, too young to attend school and often without parents or primary caregivers, Mary's Meals feeding centers in Malawi provide two meals a day and basic child care.

Number of children receiving a daily meal in their place of education:

Albania - 20 | Benin – 557 | Bosnia – 25 | Burma – 281 | Ecuador – 233 | Haiti – 16,533 | India – 4,164 | Kenya – 20,830 | Liberia – 43,141 | Malawi – 549,114 | Philippines – 2,119| South Sudan – 6,010 | Sudan – 166 | Thailand – 568 | Uganda – 11,117 | Ukraine – 83   Global Total = 654,961

I've seen some upheaval in my monthly budget recently. My rent is going up, and so are grocery costs, and there were a couple of unexpected vet visits for the cat. I'm unable to donate as much as I usually do, but I don't want to stop entirely. Although I usually donate to local organizations (that is, in the San Francisco Bay Area or somewhere in the U.S.), a trustworthy international charity will see that my dollars are spent wisely in countries where the cost of living is lower and more can be purchased with the same amount of money than would be possible at home.

In Malawi, where Mary's Meals began interacting with the local communities in 2002, it costs £7 to provide Mary’s Meals to a child for a whole school year. That's about $11 at today's conversion rates -- 9 cents a DAY. Yes, it reminds me of the "just pennies a day" Save the Children campaign -- but what an opportunity! Mary's Meals keeps their costs down by partnering with local communities in the areas served -- engaging thousands of volunteers to manage the cooking, serving, and administrative tasks necessary for such a large operation. When possible, they purchase locally produced food to use in the school meals, which stimulates the local economy and avoids shipping costs. They are committed to spending "at least 93p of every £1 you donate" on charitable work and keeping running costs to a bare minimum of necessary expense.

"We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry."
-Jimmy Carter

$11 will buy me a hearty lunch in the Financial District, where I work. One meal -- or 9 months' worth? I can afford to skip a meal, but these orphans living in poverty can't. I'd rather put that money to work where it will go much, much farther. I hope you'll join me in making a donation.

**Mary’s Meals is a non-denominational organisation. The charity grew out of the Catholic faith of its founders and its values and ethos reflect this. The help offered by Mary’s Meals is always on the basis of need alone. Mary's Meals is a work that consists of, and reaches out, to people of all faiths and none.

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