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Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

Magnus returns to Malawi

Meet the Founder

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow

“To some it may seem odd, perhaps even stupid, to retain the HQ of a global organisation in this lopsided and tired-looking shed, in a very remote part of Scotland. But being here helps remind me how and why we began this work.”
Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow CEO and founder

Who is Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow?

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow OBE is the founder and Global CEO of the charity Mary’s Meals, a non-profit organisation that provides life-changing meals to some of the world’s poorest children every school day. Mary’s Meals is now feeding more than 2 million children across 20 countries.

 

Early beginnings

In 1983, a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina renewed Magnus and his family’s Catholic faith and led the family to convert their guesthouse into the Craig Lodge ‘Family House of Prayer’, a Catholic retreat centre. 

Magnus started his career as a fish farmer in Argyll, Scotland. In 1992 during the Balkan conflict, he and his brother Fergus were so moved by scenes of the conflict on television that they took a week’s leave from their jobs, loaded a jeep with aid and joined a convoy travelling to Medjugorje, in Bosnia, to distribute it. 

On their return, donations continued to flood in, resulting in Magnus eventually driving from Scotland to Bosnia a total of 23 times to deliver vital supplies. Magnus never returned to his old job and instead set up a registered charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR). 

 

Mary's Meals is born

In 2002, during an aid trip to Malawi in Southeast Africa, Magnus experienced yet another landmark moment when he met 14-year-old Edward. Edward was the eldest of six, and his mother was dying of AIDS. Edward’s one simple hope was to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.

As a result of hearing Edward’s story, Mary’s Meals was born. From initially feeding 200 children in Malawi the charity now feeds an incredible 2 million children every school day. The humble shed that was home to those initial gifts, continues to be the charity’s spiritual home to this day.

Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance, and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £15.90 / €18.30 / $21. 

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More from Magnus

Explore Magnus' books, films and latest online articles as well as forthcoming speaking engagements and events.

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