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Magnus MacFarlane Barrow - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow - From beer-fueled brainstorm to life's work of helping others

Back in 1992, a Scotsman's life changed. He was enjoying a pint of beer at a local pub in the Scottish Highlands when an idea hit him hard in the face. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, along with his brother Fergus saw a news report about the refugee camps during the Bosnian War and the suffering inflicted upon the war-torn country. The images rattled both of them as they had visited Bosnia as teenagers and remembered the kindness of its people. "We began saying 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just do one small thing to help?' "MacFarlane-Barrow says.

Soon enough, they took a week off from work; gathered food, clothing, medicine and blankets and drove down to Medjugorje, Bosnia. After the trip , the brothers, returned to Scotland to resume work as fish farmers. On returning, to their surprise, they saw that their parents shed was filled with more donations from people all over. Since then the donations have not stopped and the brothers have not gone back to their old jobs. "I came back here thinking that I did my one good deed and it would be back to work, but it [didn't work] out like that," he says. In fact, Magnus took a 'gap year' and delivered the aid regularly for as long as it was needed. With the never-ending donations, the school feeding movement was registered as a charity as Scottish International Relief (SIR) and Magnus eventually quit his job and sold his home. He devoted all his time to the movement by operating out of a tin shed in his parents' home in Scotland. Since his first trip, Magnus has returned to Bosnia 22 more times with aid during the Bosnian War. His program, Mary's Meals provides daily meals to over 600,000 children in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, India and Eastern Europe. It operates more than 500 schools and child-care facilities in 15 countries, hence ensuring he spends most of his time abroad overseeing the project and visiting the schools. "I see the children's faces as they eat their meal, " he says. "Knowing I can transform their lives keeps me motivated."

Mary's Meals Malawi is the largest project so far. With a running cost of £7.00 for Mary's Meals to feed a school child in Malawi for a year, the non profit ensures it works closely with local communities and farmers. This plays a vital role in setting up a school feeding project.  Everyone from the chiefs, teachers, parents, church leaders etc are all involved in the process from beginning to end. This provides for unity and a sense of warmth so the children know they are in good hands. The land where such kitchens are built is generally donated at places adjacent to a school for easy access.

The project staff monitors each school at regular intervals so they are capable of rectifying any shortfalls that may arise. The staff collects data from the school in order to monitor the impact of the school feeding on the children. So far it has been a great success as there has been noticeable increase in school attendance and average grades have been improving.

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