Children walk together holding hands

The Story of Eleanora, volunteer in Medjugorje

First Italian volunteer in Medjugorje, in the birthplace of Mary's Meals

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On the day of my departure, the morning of the 9th of July, I took the aeroplane which, soaring over the Tyrrhenian sea and then the Adriatic, brought me to Split in Croatia. There I waited for the bus for Medjugorje in a café on the sea-front trying to re-read “The Extraordinary Story of Mary’s Meals”.  It is an enthralling book which tells the true story of Mary’s Meals written by its founder; Scotsman, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who, thanks to the ‘little acts of love’ of many people and guided by Mary managed to carry forward this great mission of feeding the poorest children in the world in their places of education. I greatly admire Magnus’ courage, his dedication and the strength of his faith. It always amazes me to realise how powerful love is.

Finally, in the late afternoon, the bus arrived and after a 3-hour journey, brought me to Medjugorje.

The following day, my volunteering experience began in the beautiful blue Mary’s Meals container, which has an outdoor patio with tables and benches to welcome pilgrims and on the inside a timeline showing the fundamental steps of the development of Mary’s Meals since the 80s until now. I feel that my experience here in Medjugorje is also giving me the gift of joy, thankfulness and an energy that I never experienced before. I wake up in the morning happy to begin the day, ready to welcome pilgrims from all over the world and to show the beauty of Mary’s Meals as a witness of being a marvellous fruit of Medjugorje, the outstretched arms that Mary wants.

I shared this beautiful experience with other volunteers; Anna from Austria and Aisling and Anne from Scotland. It truly is a team-effort in which we give of ourselves. As Mary teaches us, faith is sacrifice and beauty is discovered in helping others.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, we practice fasting and these are the most exciting and meaningful days for us. One of the key messages of Medjugorje is that we should practice fasting as an act of penance which brings us closer to God and puts us in solidarity with our brothers and sisters all over the world who live in poverty and suffer hunger

If I am here, it is truly for these children, in the hope that with my little contribution to Mary’s Meals can also reach the next hungry child who is waiting for a meal, to set them free from hunger and to allow them to be able to help their own communities one day.