Walking to the Maize Mill

Sarah’s blog 27/9/22

I’m filled with sadness and determination writing this blog. Sadness because children should not be having to live like this. Determination because we will continue to work hard to change their lives for the better.

Levison met these three children; Joseph, Martha and Hope walking to the nearest maize mill. Is it their maize that needs to be milled? No. They will be paid a tiny amount for walking, maybe the equivalent of the price of a bar of soap for the three of them. They will walk all day without any food. They will walk all day without any water unless they find a river to drink from which isn’t clean. All day without food and water carrying their heavy burdens. No child should have to do that.

Levison said the children have to walk over 12km there and 12km back to the nearest maize mill. 24km for these little children with these heavy loads with no food or clean water. Joseph, Martha and Hope and many more children should not have to do this for a bit of extra money to buy food. By sponsoring a child, there is a monthly food parcel for the child, meaning that they don’t have to carry the burden of someone else’s maize for over 24km. No child should have to earn a few pennies like this.

Children walking to get maize milled will find other children to walk with. They keep each other company on this arduous journey. They will chat to each other to pass the time but mainly it’s to try to keep each other safe. This journey is very dangerous, and children are at risk of being attacked, especially if they are on their own. The more of them that are travelling together reduces the risk to them but doesn’t stop attacks happening. Joseph, Martha and Hope and their friends should not have to live like this. They should not have to live in fear, be hungry and malnourished, carry other people’s heavy burdens and not have time to just be children. Building a maize mill is on Levison’s wish list.

The Feeding Programme feeds 500 children once a week. They receive a nutritious and substantial meal….their biggest meal of the week. We wish we could afford to send money to feed them more often as there are no agencies feeding children in schools in this area, however, at the moment, there is no additional money for this.

We have 90 children and young people matched with sponsors, so they have additional food each month. Many more children, including Joseph, Martha and Hope are waiting for sponsors to give them a helping hand. Can you support one of these three children or the many more who need your help? It’s less than £1 a day to sponsor a child. Or two friends could share the cost between them. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com if you can help very vulnerable child today. It might be the most important thing you ever do for one of these children.

We are building phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School so that all orphans and vulnerable children supported by The Foundation have the opportunity to go to secondary school. Only primary school is free in Malawi and, unless they have a sponsor to pay their fees, currently these children and young people do not progress to secondary education. They are desperate to learn. They are desperate to go to secondary school. They are desperate for a better life for themselves and their families. Education is their way out of poverty.

We are doing a challenge to fundraise for the school. Completing kilometres to travel the distance between here and the Foundation that the boxes travel. We need your kilometres to add to our total please. I don’t think anyone will have done as many difficult kilometres as Joseph, Martha and Hope. So, I am going to add their kilometres for this journey to our total. Please help us help these children. https://gofund.me/44a92444

As there are so many children requiring support, we are always requiring help with fundraising. It’s always about teamwork and we need you to join the team supporting these orphans and other vulnerable children. We cannot do what we do without your additional help. Here is the link to our fundraiser to build phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please help us give the gift of education and a way out of poverty. https://gofund.me/44a92444 or you can email me for the charity bank details. If you could have a coffee morning, car wash, quiz night or another fundraising event to support the children we would be so grateful. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Levison with Joseph, Martha and Hope

Joseph, Martha and Hope carrying someone else’s maize on their long dangerous journey

Team Mackay at Falkirk

Sarah’s blog 26/09/22

More kilometres collected by Team Mackay at the weekend. They walked from The Kelpies (the two horse statues) to The Falkirk Wheel and back. That’s a distance of 16km x 4 = 64km. Well done and thank you Team Mackay! Please show your support for Team Mackay https://gofund.me/44a92444

Jackie has given me the latest total. Now 5,088.003km completed which is 38.71% of our journey from here to Malawi! That total is getting bigger…well done to everyone but there is still a long way to go! Please give us your kilometres. So if you have walked 2km today for example then just message me and we can add it to our total….it’s as easy as that. Or if you’ve been for a run or a cycle then let us know how many kms you’ve done. Every little helps and you don’t need to send a photo or get a mention in a post if you don’t want to. But the more people who donate a few kilometres then the quicker we will get there. Please help. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

To donate financially to our fundraiser you can email me for our bank details or donate at https://gofund.me/44a92444 We still need to raise lots of money to build phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please help us give the gift of education. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Ewan, Adam, Jackie and Ben AKA Team Mackay with The Kelpies in the background
Ben and Jackie at the Kelpies
Ben and Jackie at the Falkirk Wheel

Building Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 25/09/22

It’s very exciting to see the work has started on the first phase of the new secondary school – Bright Futures Secondary School. This will be for the most vulnerable young people who would otherwise not go to secondary school.

Unfortunately, only primary education is free in Malawi. The nearest secondary schools are too far to travel daily so the students supported by The Foundation, and who have sponsors to pay their fees, have to board. These schools do not have enough places which is why Bright Futures Secondary School is much needed.

Everything we do is on a shoestring. We are a small charity, and we are achieving. However, there is still so much more to do. We are volunteers so you can be sure that all money that you give to our charity goes on projects. We do need your help to ensure that we can complete phase 1 of the school. We are building two classrooms and then more latrines. The staff accommodation block is almost finished but we do need more funding to complete the classrooms. Please help us? Please give the gift of education. https://gofund.me/44a92444 Together we can make a difference. Together we can continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thank you for reading and supporting us. Sarah x

The Wear A Sports Shirt Day Football Tournament

Sarah’s blog 23/09/22

We have been extremely fortunate to have had donations of football kit and other sports kit from a variety of sources and we are very grateful for the donations and support we have received. If you see a kit that you recognise/donated in the photos or videos from this tournament, then feel free to share and tag teams or people.

The Foundation has hosted the first football tournament that will be held annually. It has been named after one of our supporters. Julian Chenery works tirelessly every weekend collecting preloved football kit and other sports kits to send to those who need them. Julian’s charity is called ‘Wear a Sports Shirt Day’ and that is what this annual tournament is called as a thank you for the ongoing support that Julian has given.

It has been very successful, well attended and enjoyed by all. Five teams received gifts of new (to them) football kits. The players in the local teams taking part are all aged between 14 and 20 years old.

Well done to The Bombers who were the overall winners beating Mtelera in the final 3 – 1.

In one of the videos you will see a man talking to the crowd. This is Mr Msachi and he is the chairperson of The Area Development Committee for Chisenga District. I asked Levison to summarise what he had said. Levison said “He was saying this is the first well organised short tournament. He is really thankful to the donors. He is very happy.”

As I have been preparing this post, Levison has messaged to say that he has been contacted by a journalist from Tuntufye Radio who had heard about this football tournament!

Footballs are always needed so if anyone would like to donate money for footballs then please do email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

I’m so thankful that it has been a success and was well organised, well attended and everyone enjoyed this first tournament. And, of course, we couldn’t do what we do without the help and support of everyone who has donated kit to us to send to The Foundation. It’s always about teamwork….so thank you for being part of our team. If you recognise any of the kits in this blog, then please do tag and share. Thank you again and hope you enjoy looking at the photos and videos. Sarah x

Mr Msachi, Chair of The Area Development Committee for Chisenga thanking the donors for the football kits and saying how well this new tournament has been organised.

Football Tournament

Sarah’s blog 22/9/22

This is only a short post…it’s been a hugely busy week in Malawi (and also here).

The young people are on holiday from school and Levison and team thought a football tournament between local teams would be a good idea. So that is what has been happening today and will conclude tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Levison has been busy with other things today so there is just one short video clip of a match, however I have been promised more photos tomorrow!

This is going to be an annual event and we decided that it would be nice to name it after someone who has been very good to The Foundation. Julian Chenery, whose charity is Wear a Sports Shirt Day, works tirelessly every weekend (and sometimes midweek too) going to football clubs, schools, other sports clubs etc to collect preloved sports kit that can be reused by those who need it. He supports lots of organisations. Julian has supplied the Foundation with football kit, hockey kit, tracksuits, Christmas jumpers and Santa hats over the few years we have known him.

So, this is another opportunity to say thank you to Julian for supporting us and The Foundation. More photos and videos from ‘Wear a Sports Shirt Day Football Tournament’ will follow. Sarah x

How many kilometres now?

Sarah’s blog 22/9/22

Lots of people have been busy in the background adding kilometres to the total for our challenge. We are fundraising to build a desperately needed secondary school in rural northern Malawi and decided we would follow one of the routes that the boxes of aid travel. The total route is over 13,000km and we need more people ‘donating’ their kilometres to help us get to our total.

Do your children walk to school? Could they take part and let us know their totals for the week? Do you walk them to and from school? That means you will do double what your children do. Are you walking the dog every day? Or supermarket shopping? We need your kilometres please whether the total is big or small. The more people who help then the quicker we will get to our total. The local newspaper said they will feature our fundraising story every time we get to a significant goal. So please join in and tell us how many kilometres you’ve walked in a day/week. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

A few of the children that the Foundation supports ran 3km yesterday adding to our total. They were delighted to be helping and they also received some new clothes and flipflops too. So, the new total is 4,940.423 km which is 37.59%. Very well done everyone who has helped us so far…and if you’ve not donated any kilometres yet….please can you help us?

We are building Bright Futures Secondary School as there are not enough places available in the secondary schools nearby. Also, young people have to board as it’s too far to walk every day. Secondary education has to be paid for, so it makes it prohibitive for the majority of young people who are supported by the Foundation unless they have sponsors.

The school is being built in phases as we are on a shoestring budget as usual! Two classrooms will be built to start with, and we will add to the school over the next few years. Please will you help? These young people need a way out of poverty… they are desperate for education as they know this is the way to a better future for them and their families.

To donate you can get in touch by email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for our bank details or you can donate here https://gofund.me/44a92444 You can make a difference today. We need you to help us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Hope you enjoy the photos and videos of the children running yesterday. All of these children (apart from Catherine) would benefit from being matched with a sponsor, so please get in touch if you’d like to support one of them. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

The two boys running 3km
The four girls running 3km
These four girls ran 3km and also received some new clothes. Only Catherine (pink top) has a sponsor. If you’d like to be a sponsor email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
Chimwemwe and Ivet received new clothes and ran 3km to add to our total. Both need sponsors.

Sisters – Naomi & Modester

Sarah’s blog 21/9/22

When The Foundation was still quite new, Naomi brought her baby sister to the Foundation to ask for food. Naomi was delighted to be able to feed her hungry baby sister, Modester. They had been very recently orphaned and it was a huge responsibility for Naomi to look after and feed her baby sister.

I thought it was such a powerful photo that Levison took that day. Naomi was happy that she could feed Modester, having gone through the grief and trauma of being orphaned. They have both been living with their grandmother since then. I have used that photo lots of times since then as it tells the story of what these orphans and vulnerable children go through and the difference The Feeding Programme makes to hundreds of children, even though it is only once a week.

The Foundation is a refuge for children in need. They know they will have someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. Someone to play with. Somewhere to forget their problems for a little while. A safe place to just be children.

I was delighted when Levison sent me a photo of Naomi and Modester the other day. Naomi is now 14 and in p8 and Modester is 5 and attending the nursery. They are both doing well but it would really help them if they could have a sponsor. We’d love to see them continue to thrive and have an additional food parcel going into their home. If you could sponsor one of these sisters, then please do let me know. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com It is £25 per month to sponsor a child which you can share with a friend to half the cost. It might be the most important gift you give to one of these girls. Please help?

Thanks for reading and please do let me know if you can help. Sarah x

Naomi and Modester when Modester was a baby and they’d both just been orphaned. And now age 14 and 5 looking well.

New Clothes & Gifts

Sarah’s blog 20/09/22

At the weekend, some of the donated clothes were gifted to the children. There is always great excitement on these days and lots of children turn up to receive some new clothes.

Two elderly ladies, Gogo Nandege and Namasachi, regularly come to The Foundation to tell the children traditional stories. Gogo is a respectful term for Grandparent and a married woman can add ‘Na’ as a prefix to her name. They are both very poor but very generous with their time. They were delighted to receive coats, shoes and walking sticks which will help them as they walk to spend time with the children.

All of the children who I have named are very vulnerable and looking for a sponsor. So, if you are able to help one of them, please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com It’s £25 per month to sponsor a child. They receive a monthly food parcel at home to supplement what their family has. They also are gifted clothes, a blanket, soap and school supplies. They get regular welfare checks and are given medicine if they need it. You can sponsor a child as an individual, a family, a business or two friends can share the cost. It might be the most important thing you ever do for one of these children. Please help if you can.

We’ve always said that girls and women don’t wear trousers for cultural reasons. They do in the cities and towns but in the rural areas it is more traditional. However, some of the teenage girls asked if they could try on trousers. Some of them were far too big for the girls but it’s an indication that some of the girls would like to start wearing trousers. From now on we will gratefully accept women’s trousers too.

I hope you enjoy the photos and please do get in touch if you can help by sponsoring a child, supporting the feeding programme with a monthly donation, or paying for a box to go on the container. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or to donate to our school fundraiser the link is https://gofund.me/44a92444 Thank for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Lots of vulnerable children waiting patiently to receive some new clothes
some of the nursery children receive new clothes

Do you recognise any of these clothes? Thank you again to those who have donated preloved clothes, shoes and money to pay for transport.

nursery children receiving new clothes
A group of children receiving new clothes. All are very vulnerable.
More needy children having received some new clothes.
Teenage girls asking to try on trousers…we will include trousers for them next time as some of these are far too big!
Times are changing as culturally girls and women in rural locations have always been more traditional only wearing skirts or dresses. However, these teenage girls were keen to try on trousers!
These two elderly ladies are very poor but very generous with their time. They come to tell the children traditional stories.
Levison with the two elderly story tellers after they have been gifted coats, walking sticks and shoes. The walking sticks and shoes will make their journey to The Foundation to spend time with the children far easier.
Two little girls from the nursery who will benefit from having a sponsor
Could you sponsor one of these nursery children please?
Shalom would love to have a sponsor. Could you help her?
Fred is needing a helping hand. Please could you sponsor him?
Could you sponsor Rashid? He has missed a lot of school to try to earn some money.

Christine Cresswell Artist – new paintings – fundraising

Sarah’s blog 17/09/22

My mum, Christine, is one of our trustees. She only started painting a few years ago but she is very talented, and it kept her busy during lockdown. We were visiting my parents today and mum showed me her latest paintings.

Her beautiful paintings are for sale with all money going to our charity. Last year we had a fundraiser at Strathblane Kirk Rooms which was very well supported and raised over £1,000 which was used to extend the chicken shed at The Foundation.

I will be updating her facebook page in the next few weeks with all her original paintings that are for sale but here are five new ones for you to see. These are all 10 x 12 inches and are oil on flat board. None have been framed yet so are available for a minimum donation of £50 plus postage with all money going to the Foundation. Mum is intending to take them to get framed soon so, once framed the minimum donation would be £75 plus postage.

Hope you enjoy looking at the paintings and if you would like to buy one then please do email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com These will make an amazing original Christmas or birthday gift. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

‘Three boats’ oil on board 10″ x 12″ original by Christine Cresswell
‘The Black Mount, Rannoch Moor’ oil on board 10″x 12″ original by Christine Cresswell
‘Moored at Sunset’ oil on board 10″x 12″ original by Christine Cresswell
‘Low Tide’ oil on board 10″x 12″ original by Christine Cresswell
‘The Beach at Arisaig’ oil on board 10″x 12″ original by Christine Cresswell


Sarah’s blog 16/09/22

Levison had asked if it were possible for us to send hair clippers. Usually, hair is cut very short with scissors. Levison thought it would provide a job for someone to be able to offer haircuts, with income being split between the barber and The Foundation.

The clippers had been unpacked and put on charge and the first two haircuts given. Maybe we have a future barber here? Robert Kawonga and Hope Ng’ambi didn’t believe that the clippers would do anything when Levison showed them. However, they were soon enjoying themselves and there will probably be a big queue for haircuts when they tell their friends!

The man that is helping the boys is Tiwonge who is training to be a teacher and helping out whilst on holiday.

Hope you enjoy the photos and videos, Sarah x

big smiles at the barbers!
brilliant smiles from the boys and learning a new skill

9 year old Happy needs a sponsor

Time goes by so quickly and I can’t believe this post was from 1/1/2019. So much has happened since. Thankfully, Levison now has a motorbike (bought with money generously donated by Strathblane Kirk ) and also a truck. Levison sees this little boy, Happy, from time to time, but I hadn’t seen a photo of him and am delighted to see him looking well. Happy is 9 years old now. The family was gifted a wheelchair for him from a charity in another district. Lovely to have an update thank you Levison.

It would really help Happy and his family if someone could sponsor Happy so that he has a food parcel each month, regular welfare visits, books, blanket, soap etc. If you could sponsor him it’s only £25 per month or two friends could share the cost. Email me at

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com if you’d like to help. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

(the wall of the skills shed is now looking a bit scruffy as so many children lean on it so some paint has been bought and some older children will be helping with painting that wall)

Original Facebook Post from 1/1/2019 LEVISON’S SPECIAL NEW YEAR OUTREACH

We said earlier that Levison was on a special outreach today.
He went to see Happy, the little boy who is paralysed, whom we met some months ago in the video, and his family, to give them gifts.

Sarah and Stuart bought a chair for Happy and other kind people donated gifts just for him –
Terry nappies, waterproof pants, sudocream, soap, solar light, blankets, clothes, and a selection of toys to help engage him as he is unable to get to school.

His mother was overjoyed, and she cried with tears of happiness.

Poor Levison, though. His bike has done so much hard work and the trail was hard to Happy’s house. On the way back his bike broke, and he had to walk home, but hardy as ever he has made it home.

Happy and his mum when Levison went to visit them with gifts we and other supporters sent 1/1/2019
every journey was long and difficult with only a bicycle
Happy, age 9, is needing a sponsor to help make things a bit easier for him and his family. Can you help please?
Happy was gifted a wheelchair from a charity in another district. It’s great to see him.

Keep collecting Kilometres!

Sarah’s blog 15/09/22

Just a quick update with how the challenge is progressing. We are raising funds to build a desperately needed secondary school for some of the most vulnerable young people in rural northern Malawi. Education is the way out of dire poverty for these young people and they are desperate to go to school. Secondary education needs to be paid for in Malawi so most of these young people would not afford to continue their education without help and support.

To raise awareness and funds, we are collecting kilometres to travel the distance that the boxes go from here to Malawi….over 13,000km. If you would like to help us along the way and add your kilometres to help, then please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com We have supporters cycling, walking, hill walking, cycling on stationary bikes and using rowing machines at the gym. If you could add your kilometres from walking the dog or walking the kids to school then every little helps! The new total is 4,484.333kms completed so far which works out at 34.12% of the total journey! Well done everyone and please keep the kilometres coming! The newspaper wants to know when we get to 50%.

Here is the previous news article that was in The Stirling Observer. Team Mackay made the news! – Changing Lives Malawi

We have raised £12,516 so far and we thank everyone for their generosity. Work is starting on the foundations of the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School this week which is very exciting!

However, we still need a lot more money to provide education to these very vulnerable young people. As well as the two classrooms we are building, we need to build toilet facilities and make desks and buy more textbooks. Then phase 2 will see another two classrooms built and so on until we have a whole school providing quality secondary education at The Foundation. No longer will vulnerable children have to leave their families to board at a school that is a distance away. Please donate here https://gofund.me/44a92444 to help us give the gift of education.

I’ll add some more photos over the weekend and would love to see some photos of your kilometres. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Traci set herself a big challenge and donated her kilometres. An amazing achievement Traci, very well done!

Great job! Team Mottram climbed Ben Nevis in the rain!

Some of the older kids joined in by running a 4km race… great work!
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