Gerard Butler swaps Hollywood for the kitchen as he prepares and serves meals for needy children in Liberia

December 21, 2013 | Charity Work

Gerard Butler has never turned his back on his Scottish roots and now the 300 star is showing his humble side by giving back this Christmas first-hand.

The 44-year-old actor traveled to Liberia in Africa last week to volunteer at a charity that provides a daily meal for hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest children.
During a four-day trip to the West African nation, Butler helped the cooks to prepare and serve meals to school pupils on behalf of global agency, Mary’s Meals.

The Law Abiding Citizen star loved the experience and said he has been inspired to get even more involved with the charity, after he helped out in a school maths class, played football with children and danced with local villagers..

Butler, who grew up in the town of Paisley in Scotland, wasn’t deterred by the culture shock of the impoverished region, and became one of the gang as he hung out with the kids during mealtimes and had even the littlest ones crawling on his lap to cuddle.

The strapping Scot first got introduced to the charity in 2010 when he presented founder and fellow Scot Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow with an award and he has supported it ever since.

Mary’s Meals was set up by MacFarlane-Barrow in a shed in Dalmally, Argyll, but has since grown into an international school feeding program, working in countries where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education.

It also sends backpacks filled with school essentials around the world to ensure children can make the most of their time in class.
‘I have come to know Mary’s Meals but I had no idea of what that really meant until I came to see what is possible with this organisation and the effect it can have on the lives of so many children,’ he revealed, reported the Press Association Scotland.

‘One of the things that I have been struck by during this visit is the strength of people’s dignity, and what I love about Mary’s Meals is that it is all about retaining this. They don’t operate a free system where people are just taking; instead it is all about respecting and promoting the lives of people, their culture and what they are capable of,’ he explained.

‘I’ve seen a lot of these communities becoming more energised and alive, and what Mary’s Meals does is that it helps create a sense of community that goes way beyond the feeding program itself.’

Having been working in Liberia since 1994, Mary’s Meals now reaches more than 820,000 children around the world.

Seeing Butler become so involved it a huge accomplishment for MacFarlane-Barrow, who said: ‘I really wanted Gerry to come out to Liberia because of the huge need there.

‘There are so many children out of school in Liberia – a little less than half attend school and there are major problems with malnutrition amongst the youngest children.

‘It has been an incredible few days with Gerry. He has a great gift with kids. It has been wonderful watching him go into classrooms where he has brought the children out of themselves. Immediately he forms this bond with them, and children respond to him.

‘He has brought so much joy to the kids receiving Mary’s Meals and I hope that, through his commitment to raise awareness of our work, we can reach many more children with Mary’s Meals,’ added MacFarlane-Barrow.

The Olympus Is Falling action star is equally as passionate about the cause, explaining: ‘Every meal given to these children is a piece of charity and a little piece of love, and goes into the hearts of the children, feeding them physically and nourishing them.

‘That all passes down into the families and into the communities and gives them a sense of hope and that is the difference between a kid saying “I want to survive tomorrow’ and ‘I want to be a doctor.”‘

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