Haitian musician tells amazing story to Scots pupils

Jimmy belabre with st aloysius pupils web

Jimmy Belabre said that Mary's Meals stopped him from living a life of crime

29th August 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A Haitian musician has travelled to Scotland to tell his incredible story.

Jimmy Belabre received Mary’s Meals as a child in school and has visited Scotland for the first time to inspire other young people to fulfil their potential.

The 28-year-old, who grew up in the violent slum of Cité Soleil, has never forgotten the kindness of supporters of the Scots charity who provided him and his chronically hungry classmates with food in school, and helping him to access the education that went on to change his life. 

This week, Jimmy met school pupils at St Aloysius Junior School in Glasgow who have been fundraising for Mary’s Meals’ global school feeding programme. He was given the chance to share some of his music with the youngsters during a special assembly, where he also talked about his life and took questions from fascinated pupils.

Jimmy resisted offers of money and guns from local gangs and stayed in school. His resolve was, he says, fuelled by the daily meal he received in school and the kindness of the people from far away who made that possible. For many years, the daily school meal was all he had to eat.

He is now the principal of the school he attended (St Francis De Sales Becky DeWine School) in Cité Soleil, where Mary’s Meals continues to provide nutritious food in partnership with locally-based charity, Hands Together. 

During his three-week stay in the UK, Jimmy will meet with supporters and volunteers in Glasgow, London, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh. The talented singer-songwriter will also spend time in Dalmally, Argyll, where the work of Mary’s Meals began, in a small tin shed that still serves as the charity’s global headquarters.

Jimmy will share his remarkable story and perform at the annual Mary’s Meals Day event on Sunday, 3 September in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. Doors open at 1pm for a 2pm start and everyone is welcome at this free event.

Jimmy said: “Growing up in a place like that is so difficult. When there is not enough food to eat, every morning when you wake up asking yourself the same question: “What am I going to eat today?” It makes it so hard to keep yourself positive, because you’re hungry and you need to feed your family.

“Fortunately, I had the chance to go to a school where Mary’s Meals provided food. That was one of the most wonderful days of my life. The meal kept me in school and I could study and keep myself positive and today I’m a not a gangster – I’m a positive influence in the community. It makes me feel very proud and happy and I recognise the great change that Mary’s Meals has created in my life to make me the Jimmy that I am today.”

Mary’s Meals provides 1,230,171 hungry children with a meal every school day in 14 countries, helping them to access the education that can offer an escape from poverty.