Martha Payne: The story of a girl who fed the starving

This post is participating in the Blog Action Day – 15 October 2012

If the posts written by Martha Payne in her private blog – NeverSeconds -were not read by many of her peers in Scotland and other English speaking countries and if they had not supported her, the blog would have been shut down and there would also not have been support for the project for feeding schoolchildren in Malawi, Africa. The large number of readers supporting this blog prevented th shutting down of Martha's blog including the publication of pictures of the meals she purchased for 2 pounds Sterling.

The story in brief:

Martha Payne – fifth grader – lives with her family in Scotland. She is surrounded by friends and is popular amongst the school pupils. She is a diligent student and an outstanding athlete. Like most children of the digital age Martha also includes in her daily activities new gadgets and new technologies. She is connected to dozens of friends in Facebook and browses the Internet, she is a network gamer and speedily sends SMS messages. She Tweets dozens of times a day.

The uniqueness of Martha's digital activities are her uploads of posts to her blog – NeverSeconds – which she has been managing since April 2012 where she describes the dinners she purchases at her school.

Martha enjoys a supportive family. It is doubtful that she would have succeeded in been so successful in helping the needy if not for the support from her family – especially her father, David. When she was 9 years old her father taught her how to manage a blog and since then Martha used to update her blog on a daily basis after school. When she came home she would  sit down and describe what she had for lunch at  her school, add a picture of the meal and upload it to her blog. She also created a scale ranking the level of the meal according to criteria such as taste, size, quality and hygiene. In her school environment there was support for this girl's activity in her blog.

 The "trick", the "storm" and the power of "WE"

Toward the end of May 2012 the catering industry in Argyle, Scotland, discovered the blog and felt threatened. They notified the local newspaper about the "subversive" blog that could cause layoffs in their industry. Within 48 hours a "political" decision was made by the Argyle county council that determined that Martha must desist from taking pictures of the meals and publishing them in her blog. As a result Martha announced that she was closing down the blog.

A day passed and the digital media flooded the Internet with articles spreading the news about Martha the Scottish blogger and the ban on her publishing the pictures on the blog.

Examples of articles published in the Sun – London, The Daily record – UK and the BBC.

A "stormy" weekend in the Internet turned Martha's blog into the hot item of the Net. Millions of comments expressed sympathy and support for Martha and there were angry reactions to the ban on publishing photographs of the meals. The good news is that the blog continues to operate normally and the ban on publishing photographs has been lifted.

The catering industry in Martha's area did not succeed in shutting down Martha's blog and was forced to provide higher quality food in her school and other schools in that area. It should be noted that in addition to the by-product of the blog, i.e. a collaboration of children around the world, Martha's won the Blog of the Month award from the American Association – Jamie Oliver's food revolution.

Many thousands of readers of Martha's blog responded to Martha's call to raise money for Mary's Meals Foundation in order to reach a target sum of 7,000 pounds sterling in order to set up a kitchen and feed primary school children in Malawi, Africa. What a surprise it was when only two weeks after the "trick" played by the local catering industry and the "storm" in the media, so many people responded and contributed a total amount of more than 100,000 Pounds Sterling!

Even today money continues to be donated in order to set up food kitchens throughout Malawi, for school children from deprived homes. Martha's blog is thriving. Children from throughout the world send her reports on the food served in their schools, with pictures, and Martha uploads them to her blog. In addition, Martha is about to publish a book written with the help of her father: the story of the blog from its inception in April 2012 and the successful fundraising that she initiated. Martha will soon be visiting Malawi and meet the children whose lives were saved by the blog. From the proceeds of the sale of each book the foundation will be able to feed 24 children in Africa for one day.

Group is power

You can lead a protest and achieve goals through social digital media such as a blog, Twitter, Facebook and more. Marth's success proves this. Along with the blog readers, following the "storm" created by the catering industry in her area a community of supporters was created and together they reached results that greatly exceeded any expectations.

NeverSeconds was established using the title – No Seconds – where every post was assigned a nickname by Martha – VEG (Veritas Ex Gusto – Truth in the taste). The blog was initially aimed at sharing her culinary experience at school with her English speaking peers and what she achieved was totally unexpected.

Martha expected to receive comments but never dreamed of receiving hundreds or more of them. She also never expected to be able to raise money for the feeding of underprivileged children in Malawi. For this she needed to raise a minimum of 7,000 Sterling which is the sum required to feed one school of children in Malawi for one year. Since the blog was established the sum of money donated can establish several feeding kitchens for the children of Malawi.

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