Who or what is Mary’s Meals?

From what used to be his father’s shed in Scotland, Magnus begins writing the prologue of his first book. “The Shed that fed a million children”.

And what a book it is! From the first sentence I was captured in what seems like a magical story about to unfold. And indeed it is! But it’s also so much more!  For it’s not just a story. It’s the incredible life experience of a courageous young man making a big difference in a war torn world. 

After having seen division in the world and the effects of war and suffering, Magnus wants to do something to help those in most need.

I believe that there are lots of people in the world who wish good for their fellow man.  People who give to charity, help out in their local community & care for others.  But to quit your job, sell your house to start taking aid to war torn Bosnia Herzegovina… well its brave to say the least. And so, his vocation began (even though at that time he hadn’t quite realised it yet!).

10 years after his first (and one of many) aid missions to Bosnia Herzegovina,  Magnus meets a family.  The husband had died the year previously of AIDS and now the mother, Emma was also dying of the same disease.  Around her, on a cold stone floor, sit her 6 children.  Magnus asks the oldest child what his hopes and ambitions are and the answer he was to receive, would change his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others around the world. Edward replied…

“I would like to have enough food to eat and I would like to be able to go to school one day.”

It was from this statement and this moment that Mary’s Meals was born.

Today Magnus’s vision statement, printed on a poster on the shed wall reads: That every child receives one daily meal in their place of education, and that all those who have more than they need share with those who lack even the most basic things.

This book is truly un-put-down-able! Children living in the most horrendous conditions with the most awful hunger. Magnus describes every place and scene so well.  The whole journey is so well explained and draws you in.  It is warming, touching, frightening, illuminating and uplifting.

So why am I writing about Mary’s Meals? As a mother this cause hits me, as a fellow Scott it compels me and as a soap maker it inspires me!

I already hold the philosophy, that beautiful aromatherapy soap should be available for all and I have been searching for a while for a way to help others, however small.

Lately, lots of little jigsaw pieces have been slotting into place for me personally. Do you believe in coincidences?

Well it wasn’t until recently that my parents reminded me that we met Magnus’s parents. (I can be forgiven for forgetting for I was around 7 years old at the time).  I was with my family and the introduction was through our very dear friend Fr. Lynch. This was the first connection in my life with Mary’s Meals.

Also I have stayed at Craig Lodge with my family when I was a teenager in 1990. I remember playing on their old piano and going for long walks in the countryside.  I remember it feeling like a peaceful, prayerful place. Second coincidence.

The third link, is that I have myself been to Medjugorje three times and know it well, for I saw it in the old days before there were any hotels. No hotels meant that we lived in someone’s home and used torches as there were no street lamps.  I’ve also been there more recently as I had the great privilege of taking my own family and this time, we were very grateful to have a whole spa all to ourselves after we had made it up and back down the hill of the Cross.  It was July and it was HOT!!! We set out at 6am just to avoid the midday sun. I remember walking by the Mary’s Meals shed and giving a little nod and a wink. A wee bit of home from home!

A fourth more subtle brush with the charity is each time I help my kids make up back packs for Mary’s Meals, when requested by our school. More recently, just as I’m searching for my charitable outlet to help others through my skills, my husband is gifted the Mary’s Meals book for Christmas! I mean, if I were to miss all these signs, I’d have to be blind!

I decided to send a short email to Mary’s Meals asking if soap is something they would be interested in. After all, Meals are so important but with covid-19 hand washing is also so very crucial.  

I wasn’t sure what the reply would be as up until this point not only had I not yet read the book,but I had offered my soapy skills to a local food bank and they never replied.  But I was delighted to be told that they would indeed very much appreciate every bar I could spare!

So this is why I am now supporting Mary’s Meals in a new way. And I am delighted and thrilled to do so!  For I have also come to realise that if a child receives one of my soaps, it won’t just help that child but will be taken home and indeed help the whole family!

So I find myself facing a new, exciting challenge. Making as much soap for Mary’s Meals as I can!

Last year when the shop shelves went bare due to covid-19 I made an Antimicrobial soap in an attempt to help the local community.  This soap was unlike my other fancy designed soaps. It was made with no frills and no swirls, in order to keep costs down and re-stocking quicker and easier. And boy! It is a great quality bar of soap! Cleansing, soothing and with essential oils it’s great at killing germs. This is my soap of choice and the thought of it being shipped all over the world to help those who really need it makes my soul sing 🙂

My friends, as we know, ingredients cost money. So all I ask, is that when you think of buying soap or solid hand cream, (Ooh! And in the next couple of weeks, we will have aromatherapy reed diffusers available!), please think of buying from my website as every £10 spent will send 1 bar of antimicrobial soap to Mary’s Meals in your name!

I’m hoping that my local parish, schools and community will support me in my challenge. For the more help I receive, the more soap I will be able to make and the more families around the world will be helped.

Help me make 1000 bars by the end of this year for Mary’s Meals 🙂

Together we can make a difference. Together with love in our hearts we can “Share with those who lack even the most basic things”.

My warmest thanks…

Janice x

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