Mary's Meals Update
Just Go! Holidays & Mary's Meals
2nd February 2017
As many of you already know, Just Go! has been helping a charity called Mary’s Meals for the last couple of years, assisting them in their vision to provide daily meals to chronically hungry children in a place of learning.
In 2015, we finalised the construction of a kitchen in a school in Malawi (the Kainja Primary School) which feeds more than 1,100 children per year. At a cost of only £13.90 per year, a child in Malawi eats a meal a day whilst attending school and gaining an education. We are not only committed to feeding these 1,100 kids every year but are also planning to build two more kitchens in the next few months.
These efforts are led by my wife, Cova Rodriguez. She has been to Malawi a couple of times and witnessed the construction of our kitchen as well as the life-changing impact that this project is making in the community.
As part of these fundraising and collaborative efforts, Cova is leading a gargantuan effort to help Mary’s Meals and its founder, Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow, be nominated for the Princess of Asturias Award for International Co-operation and Concord. This is a very prestigious award which has been awarded to people and organisations such as Stephen Hawking, the Red Cross, the Gates Foundation for their fight in eradicating Malaria, Al Gore for his fight against Climate Change and many others. Please go to www.fpa.es/en for more information.
This award will not only help Mary’s Meals get very valuable recognition in Spain and internationally but will also help them financially as each award receives 50,000€. This money will help feed more than 3,000 children in a year!
Cova is hoping to collect as many endorsements as possible and we need your help. If you would like to show your support, please visit: www.fpamarysmeals.com
Thank you so much.
If you would like to make a donation to Mary’s Meals, please go to our Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/justgocharitablefoundation. Alternatively, send a cheque (made payable to Just Go Holidays Ltd Fundraising Account) to our usual address. You can also make a donation to Mary’s Meals when you book your holiday with us. Just let the Reservations staff know or, if you are booking online, simply select one of the Mary’s Meals options on the options page of the booking process.
Thank you so much for your support.
Hotel of the Year Award 2016
Pentire Hotel, Newquay
2nd February 2017
We’re delighted to announce that the Pentire Hotel in Newquay has been awarded Hotel of the Year 2016.
Just Go! Holidays has been working with the Pentire for well over a decade and has always been impressed with the hotel’s commitment to continually improve the customer experience by reinvesting in its facilities.
Based on the feedback received from our customers via the online questionnaires, the Pentire Hotel scored an impressive 96.40% overall on ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ratings last year with over 2,000 Just Go! travellers visiting the hotel.
Hotel Manager, Amanda Pleasants, who received the award said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award and very much enjoy welcoming Just Go! customers to the Pentire. We are delighted that everyone enjoys their stay with us and in recent years we have seen a big increase of repeat customers on Just Go! coaches.”
Mary's Meals Update
Just Go! Holidays & Mary's Meals
30th March 2015
As you will have heard, Just Go! Holidays has chosen to support an amazing charity, Mary’s Meals, and assist them in their vision to provide daily meals to chronically hungry children in a place of learning.
If you would like to support this great cause, please visit our Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/justgocharitablefoundation
Our Just Go! fundraiser, Cova Rodriguez, recently went to Malawi to see the project for herself. Here is her story:
I came to the southern hemisphere seeking answers. I came back with just one question: What are we doing wrong?
More than 30 years passed before I could fulfil my promise. I left my native country of Mexico at the age of 16 and I remember it, as if it was today. That was the moment when the plane picked up speed on the runaway to take off. At that time my eyes filled with tears for the thrill of a new life, the sadness of leaving my country and the magnitude of the promise I had set myself. At that moment I promised myself "someday I'll help to eradicate world's poverty. One day I will have the means to spend part of my job doing philanthropy”.
Obviously, life takes us along unimaginable roads. My life took a very different road than expected and led me to the British Isles with my husband and children. However, not knowing at the time, this was what gave me the opportunity to bring that promise to life.
Just Go! Holidays gave me the opportunity to help Mary’s Meals in their fundraising efforts. Thanks to the incredible work of Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary's Meals, and with the support of our suppliers, we were able to donate a kitchen to a school in Malawi. Our next goal is to feed the children attending the Kainja Primary School in Dowa every day. To do this, we need the immeasurable support of our customers.
No doubt it would have been terribly irresponsible of me to involve our customers in a non-viable project. To ensure the viability of it, I decided to visit Malawi at the beginning of March. And so I did - what an experience!
I had never been to a country like this before. It is certainly terribly poor, yet it is a "clean" poverty. There are no ethnic, religious or political problems. They live in harmony but lack what in Western countries we call "basics". Perhaps the best way to share my experience with you is tell you about the trip in detail….
After many vaccines and 20 hours of travel, I landed at Lilongwe International Airport. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I began to experience incredible contrasts.
I went with my immunization records in full order not wanting to come back with any of their diseases. To my surprise, they were the ones who put a thermometer on my forehead when I got off the plane, to avoid getting infection from me! I entered the most basic and oldest passport control I have ever seen, with the heat felt in the air and the furniture crying out for renovations. The contrast again came when they made me put my fingerprints on a sophisticated photocopying machine and took a picture of me with a high resolution camera.
As might be expected after I passed through immigration, I found several counters representing different banks, trying to grab my dollars. After I bought a few Kwachas from one of the banks, a customs officer approached me. She was as I had always imagined one from Malawi would be; a strong, sturdy woman who simply asked me to put my bags on top of a table to be inspected. Instead of opening them, she just chatted about her country. She recommended various places for me to visit and wished me a wonderful time, as well as telling me not to worry about the mosquitoes there as she thought they weren’t that bad!
I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel, wanting to take a shower and rest before Henri, Mary’s Meals representative, came to pick me up the next morning. It would be unfair to say that the hotel was in bad condition. However, considering I paid $110 per night, I could not help but feel disappointed when I found a note on the bed informing me of the lack of running water due to the “usual” cuts that the water supply experiences every week.
The next morning Henri was there, on the dot! Surprisingly the Malawians are incredibly punctual - no doubt a legacy left behind by the British last century. With his best smile (as the entire population seems to do from the moment they wake up in the morning to the moment they go to bed), Henri invited me to board his truck to take me to Kainja Primary School. Obviously, before my trip, I had researched distances from one place to another. What I hadn’t envisaged was that there were just a few miles of well paved roads (which in England would be poorly paved) and that the rest was an infinite extension of rural areas with nothing but countryside.
After 30 minutes driving on roads full of people on the hard shoulder (obviously, the shoulder was everything but “hard”, just soggy soil); people walking along carrying goods, water, firewood or just waiting to be picked by a potential employer, Henri turned off onto a dirt road to travel for 30 more minutes. From that moment on, no exaggerating, I felt in the remotest place on the planet. No wiring, no lamp posts, no TV antenna, no drainage, no drinking water pipelines were visible. Only vegetation, animals from a basic livestock and small adobe houses with straw roofs.
If someone had described this image to me, I would have thought that it was a product of Photoshop. A few metres before arriving at the school, I came across a pleasant, yet embarrassing scene. A group of people from the villages to which the school belongs were waiting for us to offer a welcoming ceremony, wearing what were clearly inherited clothes from some Western charity shops, as their costumes of representation.
It was exciting to know how much they appreciated my presence, but painful to think that something that represented so little effort for our company meant so much to these people. A gesture that is effortless to Westerners is a huge help for the most disadvantaged communities like this. The children from the school were amused and couldn't help the expression of shock on their faces as they wondered whether my skin was just albino, if I was an alien or if it was true that somewhere in the world, people are born faded!
The school principal kept repeating "Zikomo" (thanks in Chichewa) constantly. He explained that we couldn't possibly imagine how the kitchen we donated had changed the course of these villages (at that moment I couldn't feel any worse visualizing that the coffee and muffin I usually have, pays to feed three kids in Malawi for a month)! They consider it an astonishing act of generosity that total strangers, who live thousands of miles away from their villages, take a few minutes to think of them and even pay for a kitchen or anything else for that matter.
After giving them a few presents I had brought (pens, footballs, books, soft toys…), I returned to the hotel feeling as small as I have ever felt (and believe me, when you measure five feet tall, feeling small is a regular occurrence).
Two days later, I took a bus bound for Blantyre. Needless to say, Paul Mason, our Operations Director, would never accept a bus of this quality to drive our customers around! However I must admit that I greatly enjoyed the experience of travelling on a bus that every so often had to stop for a "routine inspection" by the police or stop by small villages so the travellers could buy food cooked in small stoves at the side of the road. I spent five hours crossing my fingers that we didn't become one of several buses that I saw damaged, either for lack of MOT or simply for lack of fuel. It was a very different trip to what we would expect in the UK. Even though, for many of you, a Just Go! tour to Blackpool going without a hitch would be ideal; for those who appreciate feeling like Indiana Jones at some point in their lives, taking a bus in Malawi comes close!
In Blantyre I went to visit the headquarters of Mary's Meals. Having visited its offices in Glasgow, I had a vague idea of what I would find. I was not wrong. Mary's Meals does not spend a single penny on unnecessary items, fervently believing that every single penny helps to eradicate world hunger. The staff is fully committed to the cause and I could easily feel a spirit of cooperation in every single person in the office. It is not an organisation where employees have lucrative expectations. From what I have seen, their only ambition is to receive a huge smile from the Malawian children.
After checking the feasibility of this project with my own eyes, seeing the enormous material needs of the Malawian society and feeling the penetrating gaze of the citizens of this country (believe me, I have never known people seeking eye contact so strongly and expecting you to return their gaze that leaves you in no doubt of the happiness that their smiles show), I found myself feeling exactly what I felt 30 years ago.
I could tell you now that I was on the airport runway, taking off to Nairobi, but it wouldn't be true. It would be melancholic, a reminiscence of 30 years ago when I left Mexico, but not true. I was actually sitting under a magnolia tree, in Lilongwe, reading my book, when my subconscious came up with another promise: "I should do as much as I can to help this community to have a better life".
One way to achieve this is by sharing my experience with all our customers and hoping they identify with the project as much as I do.
Absolutely everything helps. Someone once asked me if everyone in the world had a bottle of coloured nail polish and painted a piece of a wall with it, how big would this wall be? Believe me, much bigger than the Great Wall of China!! And only with a small pot of nail polish each!
Someone said that we should all fall in love at least once in life. I heartily agree but I also believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the essence of life, as people who only have the earth under their feet and the sky as a roof do, and experience and appreciate the deeper meaning of the word "live". I hope my memories from this trip help you feel that.
As part of the Just Go! Holidays' family, you can be reassured that our company will continue to work to 'paint the Malawian children's wall'!
If you would like to read more about this amazing charity, please visit: http://www.marysmeals.org.uk
Just Go! Holidays & Mary's Meals
8th January 2015
We are pleased to announce that Just Go! Holidays has chosen to support Mary's Meals and assist them in their vision that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education.
If you have a moment, please read more about this amazing charity, where they work, what they do and the children they help. http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/
And if you would like to support this great cause, please visit our Just Giving page for more details https://www.justgiving.com/justgocharitablefoundation
The team at Just Go! Holidays.
Meet the Kainja Primary School, DowaWicked
There are so many areas around the world that are less fortunate than ourselves, choosing one was very tough. Having spoken to the staff at Mary's Meals, about the needs and situation in various countries, we are very happy to have chosen to focus our efforts in Malawi.
We are delighted to have been paired with the Kainja Primary School, Dowa and are looking forward to working with Mary's Meals and the Kainja Primary School to create an environment where the children of Dowa can prosper.
A kitchen at the centre of the community
The first step is to raise £7,000 to build a kitchen in the school, this allows the them to provide a meal onsite and encourage attendance. Thanks to the support of our suppliers & the staff here at Just Go! Holidays we have reached this target and
plans are already underway to complete the Kainja Primary School kitchen in March 2015.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped us reach this important first stage!!!
Once the school kitchen is built, in March, the ongoing aim we have is to secure enough funding to feed every child who
attends the school every day, for a year. For this we will need to raise £10,858 each year.
Watch this space, there will be a lot of ways for you to get involved and help this amazing cause.