Child 31 is a spectacular documentary by Grassroots Films about Mary’s Meals, the charity founded by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow on a visit to famine struck Malawi in 2002. The goal of the charity is to get children in severely underprivileged parts of the world back into schools by ensuring they receive at least one good meal a day when they attend. Much more than simply feeding the hungry, this in turn offers them a way out of poverty through education. Reaching beyond the classroom, Mary’s Meals also ingeniously sources food locally to keep operating costs down, while pouring money back into the local economy, and empowers the community through enlisting local volunteers to prepare and serve that food.

The Story of Mary's Meals

The documentary itself is as much a visual feast, as it is a feast  for the soul. I find it surreal how the most devastating poverty exists in some of the most breathtaking locales the world has to offer. The glimpse into daily lives, culture, and basic human commonalities is fascinating. Child 31 is a “must see”, and will air this Thursday (October 17, 2013) on EWTN at 2:00PM, and again 5:00AM EST. The film gives a human face to world hunger, yet evades being depressing through the uplifting message of hope it brings in offering a solution.

Now let’s take a look at the math. Child 31 derives it’s title from the 31 children that died from hunger in just the first 2 1/2 minutes as you watch the film, and periodically reminds us throughout how many more have suffered. Today, over 792,000 children receive Mary’s Meals every school day for just 9 cents per meal, and the average cost to feed a child for a whole school year is  £10.70 / €12.40 / $16.80. That seems an incredibly small amount to pay in exchange for such a profound difference in another person’s life.

CNN Heroes of the Year Awards presented by Anderson Cooper

CNN Heroes of the Year Awards presented by Anderson Cooper

Some of you may recall that I met Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow at the CNN Hero of the Year Awards several years ago – an evening that proved to be a major aha moment in my life. I can’t put into words the light and energy I experienced in that room. Magnus and all of the other honorees were ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in the world through one small act of kindness after another that snowballed into enormously significant acts of charity. You don’t have to be rich or famous to effect change. That evening taught me that we all have the power within us to make a difference in the world, right now, just by opening our hearts and applying our minds.

Julie Anne Rhodes with Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

Julie Anne Rhodes with Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

If you don’t believe me, wait until you meet little Charlie Doherty who heard about Mary’s Meals when he was 7, and has refused birthday gifts ever since. Charlie’s capacity for empathy is incredibly inspiring! Since then he’s raised enough to build a school in Malawi by cycling 603 miles from Brighton to Glasgow, and gotten 24 friends together to swim one and half marathons (the equivalent of 40 miles). If a child can make that much difference in other children’s lives, so can I, and so can you. The possibilities are bound only by our imaginations. Click here to learn more about how you can help or to donate, and please don’t forget to watch and/or set your DVR’s for Thursday (October 17, 2013) on EWTN at 2:00PM, and again 5:00AM EST. I highly recommend watching Child 31, and I am honored to endorse the phenomenal work Mary’s Meals is doing every day in a relentless quest to lift the developing world out of poverty.

EWTN broadcast USA (1)

PS. For all my hometown friends – Magnus will be in Des Moines speaking at the Iowa Hunger summit, and participating in the World Food Prize events this week!

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