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Magnus in Ethiopia

An Appeal from Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow on the Crisis in Ethiopia

CEO & Founder of Mary's Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, shares his thoughts on the crisis which is unfolding in Ethiopia and how you can help.

Published on

In late February, Mary's Meals Founder and CEO, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow visited our feeding programs in Tigray, Ethiopia. He said that despite reading about the situation before his arrival, nothing could have prepared him for what he saw.  Here are his reflections from the visit.

“People who are made in the image and likeness of God should not live like this. We live worse than animals. We were business owners – now reduced to begging to survive.” says Berhan Haileselassie.

He stands tallest amidst a tightly packed crowd of people; somehow dignified despite the worst circumstances I can imagine.

Unbelievably, 220 people live in this former classroom. They’ve been here for three years, having fled their homes during the war. Blankets are strung up as makeshift walls – a futile attempt at creating some kind of privacy for the families here.

Berhan continues, “Each day we take plastic bags out onto the streets and beg for food. Seven people here have already died of hunger.”

This story of a proud people reduced to begging is repeated over and over across Tigray where 4.5 million are currently needing emergency food aid. A catastrophic famine, ignored by the world, is in danger of unfolding here. Less than half of the children are currently in school and each day more drop out because of hunger – indeed, a quarter of schools here are at risk of closing.

In Eastern Tigray, Tsadken Tesfay has been long been reduced to begging for her family’s survival. She said, “People here are always very kind to me, but many of the people who used to help me are now also begging to survive.”

Her children are not in school but when they heard Mary’s Meals was serving food in a school in their area, they walked there and asked children who were eating in the playground for help.

Two girls from the primary school, Bethlehem and Amlak, heard them and compassionately began to share some of their meal with them. Other children began doing the same for others who were desperate, despite their own need.

I have never seen a situation so urgently crying out to us to expand our program to reach more schools as quickly as possible. The only joy and hope I saw here this week was in those schools where large plates of Mary’s Meals were being served to queues of smiling, laughing children. In these schools, there is an opposite trend, with the numbers of children enrolled increasing.

These days in Tigray I have encountered some of the most dignified people I have ever met. Many of whom have joined the ranks of beggars. And I join them now too, begging you, please, to share some of what you have so that we might feed more children here. Before it’s too late.

God bless,


The children of Tigray need your help.

Please give what you can.