Bright Futures Secondary School

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Sarah’s blog 1/8/22

I just wanted to do an update on where we are with this exciting project that is going to give a brighter future to hundreds, if not thousands, of young people in rural northern Malawi, changing their lives for the better by giving them the gift of education.

Secondary schools in Malawi charge fees, so those who cannot afford the fees just do not go to secondary school. However, because there are not enough places at secondary schools in that area, even if the children have passed their primary school leavers exams and have the money to pay for secondary school, if they don’t get picked for a place then they don’t go. This is unfortunately what happened to eleven of our sponsored children this year. It’s heart-breaking for them and they have been resitting their last year of primary school with the hope of getting better grades and therefore getting a place next time.

The nearest secondary school is too far away for children to walk so they have to board which then puts the costs up and also keeps them away from their families who may rely on the young people to help with chores and looking after younger siblings.

Bright Futures Secondary School will be for orphans and vulnerable young people supported by the Foundation. Those who cannot pay fees will still be offered a place at the secondary school and those who can pay a bit will be asked to contribute what they can afford. Obviously, young people will have been required to pass their primary school leavers exams before continuing with their secondary education.

There has been lots of work going on in the background, collecting school uniforms, liaising with other charities who may help us etc. There are over 100 chairs going on the next container. They have also been busy in Malawi with making bricks and they are going to be firing all the bricks soon when they’ve stacked them to make the kilns. I have got good news and bad news so I think I’ll go with the good news first….as there are lots of good things going on.

Good things are happening

  1. One of the neighbours of The Foundation is gifting some land to ensure there is enough land to build the secondary school on. That is extremely generous.
  2. We had a grant from The Souter Charitable Trust for £3,250 for secondary school text books and are very grateful for their support.
  3. Recently we had a cheque for £4,000 from The Inverclyde Trust to help towards the secondary school. This was a lovely surprise and we are so thankful.
  4. I had a fundraiser in May to start off the brickmaking for the school. People were very kind and contributed over £1,000.
  5. We have a gofundme page open for donations towards building the school. If you would like to contribute a few £££ towards the school and to support those who are doing our kilometre challenge then here is the link; https://gofund.me/44a92444
  6. There have also been some donations straight into the bank account for which we are very thankful.

The not so good news

  1. The Malawian currency has been devalued and everything has also gone up in price. Maize is double what it previously was and also the building supplies have all gone up, some being double the price that they cost in the shower block build. All this makes it extremely difficult when we think we are working towards a target then the goalposts keep changing.
  2. We had a quote over the weekend for the first phase of the secondary school. It was, because of the reasons stated above, far more than any of us imagined.
  3. Levison and The Foundation do not have any funds of their own so are reliant on our charity for fundraising. They have started to bring small amounts of money in but because of rising costs and the huge number of children and young people they are supporting, it is like they are swimming against the tide. Self-sufficiency is obviously the end goal but it is difficult when prices are rising and children are hungry.
  4. We need more people to help with fundraising and telling others about our charity.

Bright Futures Secondary School

We are very excited and committed to changing the lives of so many children. They know that education is their way to a brighter future for them and their families. They want education and they want to work hard.

Unfortunately, due to the trauma and lack of nutrition that many have faced, not all children will be able to complete secondary school but we hope that there will be jobs available and opportunities within the Foundation or for further vocational training.

However, because of the Feeding Programme, and the preschool children being fed in nursery, they have a better start than the older children. As well as food, they have access to showers and clean clothes and are already looking at picture books. The Literacy Project is very exiting as we are hoping that the results of having reading materials readily available will be seen over the next few years. Year on year, exam results should start to improve in the schools that we are supplying with books.

We had hoped that we would be able to raise enough money for the first phase of the secondary school to open in October 2022. However, we have had to make the decision that we cannot achieve that this year. We have a year to work hard and ensure all the money needed is in place for the start of term in October 2023. Whilst we are disappointed that costs have risen and we don’t have as much money as needed at the moment, we think it is sensible to be able to spend the next year ensuring that finances are in place and that the school is built properly ensuring all children have Bright Futures.

Please, if you know of any grant giving charities who could help, or any businesses willing to give a donation in return for some publicity then please do let us know. This is a huge undertaking for a small charity like ours but we are determined to continue Changing Lives. Can you do a fundraiser for us in the community where you live? Can you hold a coffee morning or a bake sale? There’s loads of ways in which you could get involved and we would love you to join us. The children are relying on us so they all have brighter futures. Please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to suggest ways of helping, or to donate to the school. Any donation over £500 can name a classroom. Thank you for reading and supporting us, Sarah x

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