Meals blog girl raises £100,000
A schoolgirl who was banned by her council from blogging about her school meals has helped raise £100,000 for a charity that feeds poverty-stricken children.
Martha Payne, nine, was told she could no longer take photos of her school lunches for her NeverSeconds blog as media coverage apparently left catering staff fearing for their jobs.
But Argyll and Bute Council backtracked on its decision after a barrage of negative publicity and a backlash on social networking sites.
The controversial ban led to thousands of donations flooding in to Martha's JustGiving site, which she set up to raise money for Mary's Meals, a charity which runs school feeding projects in communities around the world.
It costs the charity an average of just £10.70 to feed a hungry child for an entire school year - it currently provides daily meals to more than 650,000 children every school day in 16 of the poorest countries, including Malawi and Haiti.
Donations to Martha's online giving page have now hit £100,000, which will see about 9,400 children receive a daily meal - a feat described as "awesome" by Martha.
Martha has already raised enough money to build a kitchen shelter and feed an entire school for a year at Lirangwe Primary School in Blantyre, Malawi, as part of Mary's Meals' Sponsor a School initiative. Donations will also allow the charity to provide a daily meal to thousands of other hungry children around the world.
Of the £100,000 breakthrough, she said: "This is totally awesome and will help so many hungry children. Mary's Meals is a very simple charity and it can achieve so much with so little as it costs just six pence to provide one meal. That meal can make a big difference. I've been told children receiving Mary's Meals have to walk two hours to get to their school every day - I couldn't walk that far every day. A massive thank you to everyone who is helping to support me and Mary's Meals."
The nine-year-old is planning to celebrate hitting the £100,000 mark with a small porridge party with her family and tasting likuni phala, the porridge-like dish which Mary's Meals feeds to children at its largest project in Malawi.
The family is also planning to visit Malawi later in the year where they will visit Lirangwe Primary School and put the finishing touches on the sign for the school kitchen - named "Friends of NeverSeconds" - that will be built by Mary's Meals. Martha, who may also visit a class at the school and do a few lessons, has already received a message of thanks from pupils at Lirangwe Primary. In recognition of the schoolgirl and her supporters, they wrote: "Thank you Martha and Friends" on their blackboard and sang songs.