Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Pupils sing praises of meals Martha

Schoolgirl blogger, Martha Payne, nine, travelled to Malawi to see how the money she raised for the charity Mary's Meals is helping (Gillian Wheelan/Real Radio/PA)
Nine-year old blogger Martha Payne has visited Malawi to see where the money she raised has been spent

Schoolchildren in Malawi have sung songs of praise to a Scottish schoolgirl who raised more than £100,000 to feed them.

Nine-year-old Martha Payne has travelled to the African country with her family to meet the children and see how the money she raised for the charity Mary's Meals is helping hungry youngsters.

Donations to Martha's JustGiving site flooded in after she was banned by her local authority from photographing and writing about her meals at school in Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute, on her NeverSeconds blog.

Argyll and Bute Council ended up backtracking on its decision because of negative publicity and a backlash on social networking sites.

Donations to her site now total about £115,000. The money raised is enough to build a kitchen shelter at Lirangwe School in Blantyre, Malawi, and give the children there a daily meal for a whole school year.

Martha's father Dave said the family was overwhelmed by their reception at the school on Monday. "I think from the moment we arrived until now I've been on the verge of tears and I cried when all the kids got together and welcomed Martha and sang songs of praise for her for what she's achieved," he told Real Radio. "Martha has found it really hard because really she is a kid like all the kids around us.

"She just happens to live somewhere else and for them to be singing her name and chanting things has been incredibly hard for her because I think she feels that she should be down there with the children, not up top with the teachers. But really it's down to all the people that supported NeverSeconds, and that's why the kitchen is called Friends of NeverSeconds."

Martha said she was nervous about meeting the children, adding: "Everyone was singing and staring."

During the visit she and her family took turns to put finishing touches to the kitchen sign, painting the text "NeverSeconds". She also took part in a maths class and joined children with a mug of likuni phala, a nutritious type of porridge supplemented with vitamins and minerals.

The charity said that donations it receives allow it to provide a daily meal to thousands of children around the world. It said every £10.70 donated pays for enough to feed a child for an entire school year.

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