Cooking up more meals

Founder and Chief Executive of Mary's Meals - Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow who accompanied Virginie Brouard on her most recent trip to Ethiopia.
Founder and Chief Executive of Mary's Meals - Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow who accompanied Virginie Brouard on her most recent trip to Ethiopia.

An Eskbank restaurateur who provides meals for hundreds of children in Ethiopia has struck a deal with a charity to feed thousands more.

Virginie Brouard (46) will work with Mary’s Meals to provide school meals for children in northern Ethiopia from this month, after travelling there numerous times in the last five years visiting the food project for the local orphans and the refugee camps.

It costs £70 a year for one child to receive a decent meal a day there. A total of 800 orphans benefit from Virginie’s kindness but now this collaboration with Mary’s Meals chief executive Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow will see free meals provided to 9000 school children in the area.

She said: “For me it’s a big achievement. Over the years I have been trying to do this. I met Magnus after a talk he was giving. I told him I do exactly the same as him but on a smaller scale and he was really interested in what I did.

“We kept in touch and I said ‘why are you not doing Ethiopia? Children are starving’.

“So when I went over in May I gave him reports, in June he met me there and I took him up north to where we do our work.

“He spent 48 hours with me visiting the schools and orphanage and was really touched. I thought he had seen it all before but he just couldn’t stand to see the children starving and suffering.

“I can’t do any more but Mary’s Meals has taken six schools and that will only be the start. If those schools work well, more schools will be taken on by the charity.”

Owner of Le Di-Vin wine bar and La P’tite Folie restaurant both in Edinburgh, following Virginies’ last visit to Ethiopia, she has sent money over for a project to organise water wells in three schools.

She said: “Luckily I have a friend who does that as a job he has told me he will do one well for free so I have sent £1,500 to help another school.”

Virginie will fly out on October 12 with her Ethiopian adopted daughter Genat who is returning to the country for the first time. The restaurateur added: “It’s going to be a very important trip.”