Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the Catholic founder of hunger charity Mary’s Meals, has been awarded the 2014 Prize for the Advancement of Peace by Britain’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
The Ahmadis, who number several millions worldwide and around 60,000 in Britain, give an annual award to honour an individual who has helped the cause of peace. The Islamic group rejects violence and goes by the motto “Love for all, hatred for none”, but suffers from extreme persecution in its Pakistani homeland.
Mary’s Meals was founded by MacFarlane-Barrow in 2002, and provides food for over 900,000 children every year, feeding them in schools in order to further their education. It can feed a child for a whole year for just £12.20. It is currently providing help in Liberia, which has been devastated by the Ebola outbreak.
The National Peace Symposium prize-giving ceremony took place on Saturday at the Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden, south London, western Europe’s largest mosque. The prize was handed out by the Ahmadiyya Muslim caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
In his speech the caliph condemned religious violence, saying: “As Muslims it is our duty to remind people of the true and peaceful nature of Islam. In fact all religions taught peace as can be seen from the lives of all prophets. I call upon all good natured people to unite against hate and through prayer and perseverance work to bring peace to the world.”
Rafiq Hayat, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK said: “It was a privilege to welcome Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow at our landmark event. His fantastic work is an inspiration for us all and we are delighted to honour him. In these turbulent times we must do even more to promote, education, justice and peace. This is the message of our caliph and is the need of the hour.”
Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said: “We began this work more than a decade ago, with a pilot programme providing meals for just 200 children in one primary school in Malawi. The way the work has grown and developed over the last 12 years is truly amazing, and, I believe, a fruit of prayer.
“Now, well over 900,000 children are receiving our meals every day and it is wonderful now to meet young people in college or university or paid employment that tell us they would never have been able to attend school without those meals.
“I have been motivated to do this work by my own Christian, Catholic faith, but this has always been a mission that has involved people of lots of different faiths and none, united in a common desire to see the hungry child fed and educated.”
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