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Remembering Child 31: An Interview with Michael Campo of Grassroots Films

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Thousands of children die each day for lack of food. That needs to change.

“Thousands of children have died of starvation today, and millions of children are out of school because of poverty,” explains Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow from a humble shed in rural Scotland. “And I think that’s crazy. I think that’s insane.”

Child 31, a powerful new documentary from the same people behind The Human Experience, offers a glimpse into the crisis of global starvation – and one man’s simple idea about how to end it. “Our vision for Mary’s Meals is that every child in the world should be able to receive at least one good meal every day in their place of education. And we believe that’s possible in this world of plenty.”

From Uttar Pradesh, India, where girls are forced out of schools and into the streets, to Eldoret, Kenya, where a group of street kids band together at a dump site to escape the pains of hunger, Child 31 is a poignant look at Magnus’s organization, which empowers local farmers and families in over 16 countries. “This isn’t about a bunch of rich people from the West charging in and solving everyone’s problems in Africa or India or wherever,” Magnus says. “It’s a whole lot of us around the world walking together with the same very simple goal: that the hungry child receives a meal every day.”

Grassroots Films, with their characteristic blend of verve and wisdom, brings Magnus’s emphasis on the suffering of individual children to life on screen. Vivid cinematography, candid interviews, and a stirring soundtrack all cast us into the stories of a few of the children fed by Mary’s Meals, and remind us that the death of 18,000 children every day is not only a staggering statistic – though it definitely is that – but the loss of 18,000 unique and precious souls.

I recently sat down in Brooklyn with Writer, Producer, and Chief Operating Officer of Grassroots Films, Inc., Michael Campo. Campo has written and produced numerous promotional pieces, commercials, and viral web videos in addition to The Human Experience and Child 31. I asked Campo a few questions about the making of Child 31, and about what people can do to help support Mary’s Meals.

How did Child 31 get started?

Child 31 got started when we were contacted by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the founder of Mary’s Meals, and asked if we could create something for his organization that would show what it is they do. Grassroots Films was excited because the organization is so legit. I think right now they are feeding close to 800,000 children everyday across the globe through the context of education. After speaking with Magnus we worked together to schedule the shooting, and went to work.

What was it like for the filmmakers to travel to these places of incredible impoverishment?

Filming in these places was a reminder to our crew of what poverty is. Each of our guys on the ground was affected by what they witnessed in a tremendous way. It’s hard to do this type of work and come home to a place like New York City, where food is a click away from an iPhone app. 

What do you hope people take away from this film?

I hope that people who see Child 31 are affected in a positive way. I hope people are compelled to get involved in the organization and volunteer or donate money. $16.80 USD can feed a child in some of these places for an entire year. Think about your night out last night at the bar or a restaurant, and how much money you spent on drinks, food, and transportation. To make a difference through Mary’s Meals, the cost in some places is less than a night out.

What can people do to support Mary’s Meals?

Support Mary’s Meals in any and every way you can. Spread the word about the film, donate time and/or money, and get involved!

What’s next for Grassroots Films?

Grassroots Films has some amazing projects in the works right now and I am very excited about the future of the company. From new TV series ideas to feature length documentaries, Grassroots Films is continually expanding its role as a positive media player in the industry.

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