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Join our Step by Step Walk

Executive Director for Mary's Meals Ireland, Patricia Friel, recalls how the Step by Step Walk started and why you should get involved.

Published on

My phone rings and it’s my friend, Fr. Eamonn.  He says, “HelloDid you hear I’m walking from Malin to Knock?” – to which I reply that I had.  My first thought was that he was going to stay a night with myself and Joseph in Cavan, but to my surprise he asks, “Will you walk?”  I say, “Walk where?”  He says, “From Cavan to Knock!”  I laughed.

Those of you who know me know that I would not walk the length of myself!  But Fr. Eamonn then told me about Mary’s Meals - the most beautiful, simple charity that helps some of poorest children throughout the world by feeding them a nutritious meal each day in a place of education.  We soon arranged for him to come to Cavan to show me a beautiful film called ‘Child 31.  That film affected me deeply and one of the little children in particular broke my heart. It felt like my heart was filled by the children.  So, I said, “Yes, yes, I will walk!”  

Patricia with supporters of Mary's Meals starting the Walk to Knock.

I set off from Cavan to walk for five days alongside Monica, escorted by James, our support driver.  It was August 2013, and the days were hot and I was sore.  I had many blisters but when times were hard, I imagined one of the little children walking beside me.  This way, I was walking in solidarity with all of the little children who have to walk so far to get to school each day. 

Little did I think that giving my “Yes” to that walk would lead me on the journey of my life.  As I set off on that first summer’s morning in 2013, never did I imagine that, seven years later, I would be given the honour of leading Mary’s Meals Ireland.  Those beautiful children are in my heart at every moment. 

On a recent self-funded visit to Malawi, I met a teacher in Jacaranda Junior School  called Ms. Evans.  I enquired as to why she called all the children by the name “Baby”.  She smiled at me and replied, “They are in my blood.” 

And that’s it!  The first year I walked was because that wee boy broke my heart; but it was broken to be just like Ms Evans’, so I can now say that I do what I do because the children are in my blood too. 

Image of a teacher and her students from a school feeding programme.

I’m only a small part of the Step by Step to Feed the Next Child Walk.  The heroes are the walkers, collectors, support drivers, people who provide food and accommodation and, of course, all the people who so kindly donate to our life-changing work.  You all make Mary’s Meals.  You are delivering hope and I believe that the children are in your blood too! 

Thank you all; and if you’re not a part of Mary’s Meals already, join us!  You are most welcome here. 

Patricia Friel,
Executive Director
Mary's Meals Ireland

Children in a classroom smiling and looking into camera.

Step by Step

Raising vital funds to help feed hungry children in some of the world’s poorest communities.