Meet the Glasgow Uni students surviving on porridge for a week
They’re raising money to feed 50 children for a year.
We spoke to the Glasgow Uni Mary's Meals society to find out what the charity means to them and how the week is going so far.
The team are hoping to raise £695, the exact amount of money it will cost to feed 50 impoverished children for a whole year. Today is World Porridge Day, an annual campaign where all the Mary's Meals teams hold coffee mornings and fundraisers across the UK. However, our dedicated Glasgow Uni team wanted to go the extra mile and get sponsored to eat only porridge, rice and beans for a whole week. President Blair and Secretary Sarah were keen to answer some questions.
Why did you guys first join the society?
Blair: I was a volunteer with Mary's Meals before coming to uni, I did presentations in schools and organised backpack appeals, so I wanted to keep it up. The best thing about the society is you meet loads of like-minded people and we can take part in bigger events such as porridge week.
Sarah: I joined the society last academic year which was my second year at university. I joined by chance actually, I saw the stall outside the QMU and thought it would be great to get involved in something different. My degree is accounting and I wanted the opportunity to meet students from different subjects and raising money for charity is always a great thing to be involved in.
Why does the charity mean so much to you?
Blair: I first went to Malawi when I was 16, with a different organisation and I was able to see the massive real life impact that charity work has – I got to see how happy a simple meal made a child and I wanted to make sure as many kids as possible got the chance to be happy and not worry about what they had to eat every day.
Sarah: Mary's Meals is a wonderful society and […] it's a great way to make new friends and it's a lovely feeling knowing that what you're doing is making a difference to children worldwide.
How are you feeling about porridge week?
Blair: Mary's Meals really helps students, a very simple bowl of porridge can really be the highlight of these children's days. The point of porridge week is that we all sacrifice something (nice food) to help provide more meals for these kids. It's a really small sacrifice for just one week when there are children living in poverty and refugee camps. Whenever it gets tough and we're dreading another bowl of porridge we just have to remember that we'll be helping change the lives of so many children.
That being said, the most challenging thing will be the caffeine withdrawal. I'm not sure if I'll be able to function without keeping up my usual caffeine addiction!"
Sarah: I am looking forward to porridge week, as it's a tough challenge, but hopefully by the end of it we will have raised enough money to be able to feed at least 50 children for a full year. I've done porridge week in the past and I know that the hardest part is trying to cope as you normally would on such a calorie restricted diet.
Mary's Meals is an international charity based in Scotland, which has links in 14 countries around the world including Malawi, Haiti, Lebanon and Syria. The charity has teams all over Scotland, including Glasgow Uni and Strathclyde. To feed a child for one year through Mary's Meals costs £13.90, which covers one meal a day for a child in their place of education. This is an added benefit because it encourages families to send children to school, giving them the best chance of an education and a better future. The charity are want to break the poverty cycle through their motto: "food + school = hope." Over half the charity's earnings are linked to Malawi, and the meals served there consist of nutrient rich porridge. In other locations they may provide children with rice, beans or other alternatives.
You can show your support for Blair, Sarah and the rest of the Glasgow Uni team via their justgiving page here, or by using the #MarysMealsonCampus hashtag. They're giving up A LOT this week, so hopefully we can all give up a few pounds and donate.