April 12, 2020

Dear friend

Easter has long been my favourite day in the calendar. Normally, as part of our tradition here, a big fire is lit right outside the door of my shed (our global HQ!) late on the Saturday evening and a crowd gathers around the priest who lights a big candle and leads us all into a dark chapel – where we then start to light each other’s little candles. This powerful symbolism of light overcoming the darkness moves me very deeply each year. 

I am thinking of other fires these days also. And not just symbolic ones. Normally, if you arrive very early in one of the schools in Africa in which we work – just as dawn begins to lighten the sky – you will see children arriving each holding their blue mug and a small stick. These sticks they bring to the volunteer cooks, who are just starting to light fires underneath huge pots of porridge. Those little sticks the children bring each morning are the fuel for the fire; the child’s crucial contribution to the cooking each day of the meal. But those fires aren’t burning either these days as playgrounds lie empty outside closed schools.

However, I can tell you with very deep joy about some new fires that are starting to burn! Nothing could make me happier this strange Easter than to be able to share with you some very wonderful news! Our amazing teams in many of the countries where we deliver those meals, despite the school closures, have already found new ways to keep feeding those children at home. Working with the government ministries, community leaders and our incredible local volunteers we have established safe ways to bring the food to the homes of children for it to be cooked there. There are already plans in place to reach hundreds of thousands of those children in this way – and each day new solutions are being found and that number is rapidly growing! And so, fires will indeed still be lit to cook our porridge after all. And these fires – smaller but more numerous – will still be fuelled by the children’s sticks.

Flames and fire – these are more than just symbols in the Mary’s Meals story. They are burning for real and they demonstrate that this mission – despite all the uncertainty that remains, despite all the things beyond our control which keep changing day by day – cannot be extinguished. Millions of little home fires will cook meals that will help to keep hunger at bay and tell those impoverished families that they have not been forgotten – that Mary’s Meals will always, in every circumstance, strive to keep our promise.

Perhaps these days all of us in the Mary’s Meals family can identify with those children and their precious little sticks. We all bring something, however humble, to this mission – our donations, our prayers and all our other little acts of love – and we add them to this fire that is Mary’s Meals. In that way every one of us plays our part in ensuring that this mission of ours blazes ever brighter and can never be extinguished.

I am still a little sad that the fire outside my office could not be lit this Easter, and that so many of us around the world have been deprived of celebrating the Resurrection with our friends and loved ones the way we usually do. But Jesus is Risen, no matter what.

And because of your goodness thousands and thousands of the world’s poorest children will continue to eat.

There is so much reason this Easter to rejoice! So much to be grateful for!

Happy Easter!!!!