‘An unforgettable experience’ – read Philip’s diary!

Philip sees Mary’s Meals volunteers in action every day in Liberia – but how would they compare with the ones he met in Glasgow? 

Back to all stories | Posted on 01 Nov 2019 in Blog

Earlier this year, Philip, our Head of Programme Delivery in Liberia, swapped Tubmanburg for Glasgow in Scotland, where he spent two days with our warehouse volunteers.

Here, he shares his diary of what he describes as an unforgettable experience

Philip (right), with Alan (left) and Cross (centre).

Day One 

Working for Mary’s Meals in Liberia, I get to experience first-hand the dedication and commitment of volunteer cooks who prepare and serve meals for our children every school day. I wanted to have a perspective of the volunteers working for Mary’s Meals on the other side of the world. I had many questions: What exactly do they do? What motivates them? Why Mary’s Meals

MORNING 

I spent today out and about in the Mary’s Meals van, collecting backpacks and visiting one of the Mary’s Meals’ charity shops with Alan, the Material Aid Officer,and Cross,one of the most enthusiastic volunteers I have ever met.

Our first stop was Trinity High School,where we collected eight sacks, each containing eight backpacks, and each backpack filled with goodies for children in Malawi – towels, clothes, pens and pencils, and much more! The backpacks were handed to us by the school children with smiling faces. 

While we drove away from the school, I began reflecting on what I had just witnessed. Here were children taking time and effort to organise and give something to other children in need. It dawned on me that this is what we mean by “Little Acts of Love”.  

Philip and Cross load the Mary's Meals van with backpacks.

AFTERNOON 

Express Logistics receive backpacks from supporters all over the UK. On Monday afternoon, I had the chance to meet the owner of Express Logistics, who amazingly had been in Liberia, and was delighted to learn that I was working there for Mary’s Meals. I learnt that through his generosity, confidence and trust in the work and vision of Mary’s Meals, he allows us access to the premises even on Sundays. Alan, Cross and I sorted through sacks of backpacks there, it was a remarkable experience.   


Day Two 

MORNING 

Alan introduced me to the team of highly enthusiastic, deeply committed and dedicated volunteers and I explained to them the purpose of my visit and spoke to them about Mary’s Meals’ work in Liberia.

The warehouse is divided into various sections with specific tasks conducted in each one. I spoke to the volunteers at their posts, about themselves and their commitment to volunteering with Mary’s Meals. The common theme was their deep belief in the vision of Mary’s Meals and the impact of its work on those in need. They all believed that spending their time volunteering at the warehouse was a worthwhile cause and they would continue as long as their bodies still had the energy. Incidentally, almost all are already retired!

I also got involved in the work. I sorted pens and pencils, packed backpacks and participated in loading a truck with sacks. No item that comes to the warehouse is wasted! 

Philip meets just some of the amazing Mary's Meals volunteers at the Glasgow warehouse. 

AFTERNOON 

Loading the truck was so fascinating. I was already panting after lifting a few bags, but Tony had this incredible amount of energy and seemed to go on forever without resting. I was a little embarrassed that I could not match his strength and fitness, despite the age difference between me and him.

Nonetheless, we managed to load 166 sacks between us. I was startled by the deep level of commitment and dedication to the Mary’s Meals cause by the warehouse volunteers. I feel privileged to have observed first-hand this other part of the big Mary’s Meals jigsaw. My time with the volunteers reinforced my understanding of another of our values: We have confidence in the innate goodness of people.

To Alan, Cross, Jim, Michael, Tony, Romeo, Juliet and all the volunteers – sorry I can’t remember all your names – a big thank you for the time and effort you give Mary’s Meals. The innate goodness of people is really manifested through your work. God bless you.

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