May 3, 2020

Dear friend

I hope this new week finds you and your families well.

This week has brought continued good news with one Mary’s Meals programme country after another reporting progress in agreeing and implementing plans to ensure the children are fed at home, and at the same time we are seeing all kinds of new fundraising initiatives finding ways to compensate for previous planned activity that can no longer happen.

But I think there is another reason too, as to why this remarkably rapid adaptation has been possible. It may feel like we have very quickly built a whole new house – but, crucially, we did not have to build new foundations for it. Our dearly held vision, mission and values are our solid foundations upon which we keep building. Without them we might still be wondering where to start digging, and perhaps we might not even have tried.

After all, school closures and all the other ramifications of COVID-19 are things so far beyond our control it could have been a legitimate choice to simply accept that our daily meals were no longer possible to deliver whilst this situation lasted – and to just wait for it to pass. The same too with our support base – we could have accepted as inevitable a huge drop in income, and planned accordingly to serve fewer meals to fewer children. But our values – the very heart of what Mary’s Meals is – do not give us permission to entertain either of those approaches. Not for a minute.

We are reminded that, all along, we have had ‘confidence in the innate goodness of people.’ We see it written in bold all around us these days; in our supporters who just keep giving, never mind their own new hardships, and in our volunteers who just keep doing it no matter the challenges that have emerged in their own lives and families.

One of our other core values is that we ‘respect the dignity of every human being and family life’ and, as we strive to serve each child at home, we cherish each of their lives and recognise the dignity and uniqueness of each family as they try with all their strength to feed and educate their children. We understand more than ever how crucial it has been to ‘work to develop long term relationships based on mutual trust with those who implement and monitor our work with the poor’ and we witness too, these days, the many new examples of the ‘willingness of people to pray and fast for our work’.

We do not pretend to be ‘the prime movers’ of this mission. It does not belong to us; we are simply stewards of this gift of Mary’s Meals and at the service of all who wish to participate. Nor are we in control of the future or able to predict each aspect of it with any certainty. We are most interested in today, the need in front of us now, when we think of this work. That does not mean that we disregard the need for forward planning or the desire to carry out this work in a way that aims also to bring about a better future for the children we serve. What it does mean is that we do not neglect the needs of a child today in the service of some uncertain future or ideology.

Thank you for all you are doing these days. Your little acts of love are far more beautiful and profound than any words - ‘for Mary’s Meals is … mainly about doing, rather than talking, or theorising, or telling others they should be doing it.’

Have a great week!

God bless