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Chambo Primary School – School Literacy Project Visit 18/10/21

Sarah’s blog 18/10/21

Today Levison had arranged with the headteacher of Chambo Primary School to pay a visit. Levison was delivering 17 boxes of books that we had sent as part of the School Literacy Project. This is a project that has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children living in extreme poverty.

Chambo Primary is the primary school nearest The William Stewart Foundation, Ibuluma Village in the Chitipa District of Northern Malawi. There are 8 classes in this school with 70-80 children in each class. Approximately half of them are children supported by The William Stewart Foundation, so today was very much about those children as well as their peers.

Imagine, as a teacher, not having the resources you need for your class (I know most teachers here dip into their own pocket to buy extra resources for our children, but this goes way beyond that). Imagine not having books at school. Imagine having no internet and computers. I can just about remember that but our children will never have been in a school without technology. Imagine not having desks and chairs and having to sit on the floor all day. Only one classroom at Chambo Primary School has desks and benches.

Literacy starts a long time before children go to school. Even babies look at picture books with their parents and grandparents. Toddlers know that the story continues by turning the pages in a book and that the pictures tell the story as well as the words and they follow the words with their fingers even though they aren’t reading. Children can recognise environmental print (think of them spotting their favourite fast food restaurant as you are driving past) but the children in Ibuluma have missed out on that also. So if there are no books in these children’s homes they have missed out on years of literacy and enjoying books before they even get to school.

When our children go to school they practice reading and writing every single day, even if it’s only a small amount of time. Paper is plentiful as is the choice of books. Most children will have books to take home to practise their reading. Not the children from Chambo Primary School, Ibuluma. Until today. Now 17 boxes of books have been delivered, along with strong ziplock plastic bags to protect the books. Children can now borrow these books to take home. Hopefully, they can read their books with their siblings. We want books to become an every day item….a very special and enjoyable item….but to be used every day. These children deserve our support and we want to thank every single person who has helped with the first delivery of this project. We are going to liaise with the headteacher and see how this project is getting on and if there is more we can do to support them. We want children to achieve as education is so important for them to be able to have brighter futures.

We estimate this project was about £350 – £400 to deliver. It didn’t cost us that much as we had many people donating the bags as well as the hundreds of beautiful books. Also some people were able to donate the £15 required to transport a box of books on the container. We think this project is £400 very well spent and we thank everyone who contributed. What we do is always about teamwork and if you’ve been part of this team then be proud as you are #changinglivesmalawi Get in touch if you’d like to help us. Enjoy the photos and thank you for reading and celebrating this success with us. Sarah x

Reading in Emma’s Rainbow Library

Sarah’s blog 17/10/21

Fundraising enabled a library to be built and named after Emma Buchanan, a lovely girl who sadly passed away. She loved reading and, if she had been in better health, would have loved to have visited Malawi.

Shelves have been built in the library and we’ve been sending books. There are more on the next container; educational books as well as fiction. Also some tables and chairs.

This morning Levison sent me photos of young people sitting reading in the library. I asked if he could ask a couple of the young people what they were reading and why they picked the books that they had. It was really enlightening to hear from them and find out a bit a more information.

Moses is in the white t-shirt and Lameck in the pink t-shirt. Moses has a sponsor and is on the apprenticeship scheme. Lameck doesn’t have a sponsor and does casual piece work to try to buy food.

Moses said he wanted to look at stories in books and, if possible, wants to write his own stories. Unfortunately, Moses had only completed his first year in secondary school and then dropped out due to lack of resources and money to pay his fees. He then was able to be sponsored to go on the apprenticeship scheme for two years. After hearing he would like to write stories, I contacted his sponsor today to ask if they would be willing to support Moses for three years if he was to go back to secondary school and finish his education as Levison said that is what Moses would love to do. His sponsor was delighted to be able to help with this. Moses will find out tomorrow that he is able to return to secondary school in January and I’m sure he will work hard.

Lameck told Levison that he was interested in learning more about culture so that’s why he chose that book. Lameck has no sponsor. He didn’t even complete primary school and sit his leavers exams through no fault of his own. He only had rags to wear. He didn’t have notebooks and pencils that he needed to write his lessons. He had no choice but to drop out of primary school. So, despite wanting to learn, unless his luck changes, he is destined for a low paid job (if he can find a steady job) or doing piece work as and when work is available.

It would be amazing if someone could sponsor Lameck to go on the apprenticeship scheme for two years to be taught practical skills or if he could finish his last year in primary school, do his exams, and then go to secondary school for four years. It’s £25 per month to sponsor a child or young person. You can sponsor as an individual or a family or share the cost with a friend. Can you imagine if we hadn’t been able to go to school because we didn’t have a notebook and pencil? Sponsoring Lameck might be the most important thing anyone ever does for him. Can you give Lameck the gift of education. Please? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

Lots of young people reading books in the library this morning. Lameck was reading about history and culture and Moses was reading different books with stories as he’d like to write stories too.
Moses had completed one year of secondary school but dropped out due to poverty. His sponsor has been supporting him on the apprenticeship programme but is going to support him to go back to school. Life is looking good for Moses thanks to his sponsor.

Lameck didn’t even get to finish primary school due to extreme poverty and has been trying to do casual work ever since to buy food. Lameck deserves a chance to finish his last year of primary school and go on to secondary school. He clearly likes learning and reading and is trying to better himself. Please can you give Lameck the gift of education?

The Feeding Programme

Sarah’s blog 17/10/21

Just thought we would bring you some photos of the feeding programme today. Approximately 400 children came and were fed today. The children have nsima (made from maize), beans, tomato relish and vegetables. This is their biggest and most nutritious meal of the week. As there are so many to feed, the children are fed by age groups. We are grateful for the volunteers who cook and serve the children.

You can sign up to receive updates from our website. Thanks, Sarah x

The big cooking pot of nsima (maize) cooked over an open fire. This method isn’t as safe as an enclosed stove and also uses more wood. The eco stoves that have been made are too small for this pot but hopefully a bigger one can be made to accommodate this huge container.

A great photo of one of the eco stoves, made by the apprentices, with a generous donation from Welding Engineers. Because they are enclosed, they are safer for the person cooking, and any children. They retain more heat and also use less wood which is much better for the environment. People also spend less time gathering wood each week.

some of the younger children enjoying their lunch
one of the younger children, Legina age 6, enjoying her food

Being a sponsor changes lives

Sarah’s blog 16/10/21

I was going through some photos from a recent event and am just amazed at the difference in Laston since he has been matched with a sponsor. He was malnourished, in rags with shoes that were far too small for his feet. £1.50 was all that a farmer paid him for a month’s casual labour. Things seemed hopeless for him and his grandmother. He’s happier, feeling and looking better, has a monthly food parcel, access to the weekly feeding programme, a blanket, clothes etc. He’s just left primary school and, instead of his education being over which is what happens to most children, his sponsor will pay his fees and he will start secondary school in January. He has said he would like to become a lawyer. Lots of studying and hard work and who knows? Laston may achieve his dreams. There are 30 children who have left primary school who are waiting for a sponsor. Can you help one of them achieve their dreams? Its £25 per month contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading. Sarah x

Happy Mothers Day (Malawi) – It takes a village to raise a child.

Sarah’s blog 15/10/21

It’s a national holiday in Malawi today. The schools are closed and people are celebrating Mothers Day. It made me wonder what the children who are supported by The William Stewart Foundation are thinking and feeling today.

The Foundation supports approximately 800 children and young people through different projects. These are some of the most vulnerable children in the world, suffering from malnutrition, extreme poverty and most have experienced grief and trauma due to the loss of a parent or important adult caring for them. Do the ones that have lost their mums have memories of them? Were they too young to remember? How many children are now carers themselves? Of course we know it’s not just females that have caring roles but today we thank the women who are bringing up their own children, other people’s children, grandmothers, aunties, big sisters, and some who are not blood relatives but have loving, caring hearts. Life is very hard but even harder when you’ve got nothing and you and your family are very, very hungry.

The African Proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is so true and The William Stewart Foundation is part of that village, raising the most vulnerable children, feeding them, clothing them, trying to give them hope for a better future. We can all be part of ‘the village’ for these children, playing an important part in their lives, supporting them so that the mothers of the future have opportunities that previous generations haven’t had. Happy mothers day to all the caring women in Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Did you know….?

Sarah’s blog 14/10/21

Hi, I thought it might be good to give a few facts for anyone who has joined us recently. If you have juststarted following us ….. welcome!

In Malawi it gets light at approx 6am and dark at approx 6pm all year round. The Foundation now has power but none of the houses in the area have electricity. So unless people are lucky enough to have a candle or a windup torch they are in total darkness after 6pm at night. How can children read or do their homework in the dark? That’s why we want every child to have a windup torch and we welcome donations of candles and windup torches.

The William Stewart Foundation supports over 800 orphans and other vulnerable children through a variety of projects, as well as supporting the elderly and infirm. Approximately 500 children turn up each weekend for a meal at the Feeding Programme. That might be their most filling and nutritious meal of the week. As there are no big charities feeding children at school in that area, some children walk up to 20km for a meal. Teachers have noticed a difference in the children’s concentration since the Feeding Programme started. They have also reported that the children are more confident now they have new clothes instead of rags. Last year 20 children who are supported by the Foundation, out of a class of 80, all got higher results than their peers in their primary school leavers exams.

70 of the most vulnerable children and young people now have been matched with sponsors, ensuring they have a monthly food parcel and that their secondary school fees are paid. Without this support, the children supported by The William Stewart Foundation do not get to secondary school. We have young people waiting for that opportunity to see if they can go to secondary school with their friends in January…or if their education is over. It’s only £25 a month to make a huge difference to a young person.

Class sizes are up to 80 children and at the primary school nearest The Foundation, the children sit on the floor. We are collecting reading books for them so the children have books to practice reading. There are mixed age groups in each class as, due to the dire poverty, children miss chunks of school to try to earn the equivalent of 10p a day to buy some food (for reference a bar of soap costs approx 30p). One of the boys who has now been sponsored and is off to secondary school in January, used to work for a whole month for a farmer and get paid £1.50 for the month. Things have now improved greatly for him thanks to having a sponsor. So there are 16 year olds having just left primary school, desperate to get to secondary school. In Malawi, education is everything and out of reach for most. They are required to supply their own stationery, again another challenge for the poverty stricken.

Football and netball are really popular and the children and young people love to play both at The William Stewart Foundation. They are able to forget their problems and have fun with their friends. New footballs and netballs are always needed!

The nursery at the Foundation is run thanks to a monthly donation. 50 children meet for 3 sessions a week. These children are age between 4-6 as children start school at age 6 in Malawi. The children receive food each time they meet and they received uniforms and fleecy blankets recently. We would like to gift each child who starts nursery a bag with uniform, a blanket, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and other essential items to support their wellbeing and attendance at nursery.

Hopefully, you’ve found these facts interesting but please do message if there are other facts you’d like to know. I’ve attached photos below of things that we are collecting to support the hundreds of children at The William Stewart Foundation. We would love it if you could purchase a few things next time you are shopping please, or let us have preloved items that are in very good condition. Thanks for reading. Sarah x

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched!

Sarah’s blog 13/10/21

We use this phrase a great deal…about lots of different things. However, today’s blog is about chickens and eggs!

We had a generous donation from Lochlie Construction Group in Glasgow. An incubator was bought with this money. 100 eggs were placed in the incubator and it takes about 21 days for the chicks to hatch. Out of the 100, only 34 hatched. However, that is 34 more than previously! Also there had been a lot of power cuts recently which meant that the incubator’s temperature dropped for long periods of time. Ideally, it would be good to have another form of power as a backup for the incubator. It’s all been cleaned out ready to start again with more eggs. Everyone loves photos of little chicks so here they are looking very cute. Once numbers build up, some can be sold to bring in an income for the foundation. Also some can be gifted to the most vulnerable families enabling them to become more self-sufficient. It would be wonderful to have a paying it forward scheme whereby, once a villager’s flock starts to increase, they give away the same number of chicks that they had been gifted. Enjoy the photos. Sarah x

‘The best way to multiply your happiness is to share it with others’

Sarah’s blog 12/10/21

The children at The William Stewart Foundation Nursery were all gifted new uniform and a blanket each from the boxes that arrived a few days ago.
Christina smiles as she wears her new dress and cuddles her blanket, she needs a sponsor

Philemon in his new tshirt and squeezing his blanket tightly that he has just been given. He also needs a sponsor to improve his life.

There are 50 children at The Foundation Nursery, aged between 4 and 6. They meet three times a week and are always fed during each session. The nursery running costs are paid for by a monthly donation, without which the nursery couldn’t run. The children were each given uniform last year and donations of more uniform have just arrived. There were a few dresses but many more tshirts. So, thanks to donations, children were each given either a dress and a tshirt or two tshirts and each had a fleecy blanket gifted to them. As you can see, the children love receiving gifts.

In future, if we can get enough donations, we would like to present each child with a bag when they start a the nursery. This bag would contain a blanket, 3 pairs of pants, soap, t-shirt & shorts or a dress, plus two t-shirts and a sweatshirt as nursery uniform. Also it would be a great opportunity to include a toothbrush and toothpaste and a picture book. Imagine the difference this would make to each child at nursery. They’d have something to wear at nursery and something to wear at home. They would have clean underwear and a blanket to keep them warm at night. And to learn from a young age about the importance of cleaning their teeth. This is one of my goals to make this happen for each child starting nursery, so that everything would be made up in the bags already and gifted to the child on their first day. We take an holistic approach, with each child at the centre of all we do, to support the children at The William Stewart Foundation in Northern Malawi. If you would like to help with this project then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Look at the boy in the green top in the following photos of the nursery children having received new clothes on Sunday. He is examining his friend’s new clothes as well as his own. I love these photos and knowing that, as a team, we are helping to make their lives just a little bit better. Thanks for reading. Sarah x

And just look at the tie that the boy in the checked shirt has received…very smart!

Thank you for our clothes

Sarah’s blog 11/10/21

I’ve always said to my own children that there will always be people with more than them but there will also always be people with less than them.

If we all shared what we have then there would be enough for everyone in the world. A very simplistic view, I know, but there is no reason why we can’t share with others, wherever they are in the world, if we have the ability to do so.

There were five children that Levison sent photos of yesterday. Five children suffering from malnutrition and dressed in rags. Children who have missed school to find piecework for the equivalent of 10p per day. These children are desperate for sponsors to improve their lives so please, please do get in touch if you can help. Or could you and a friend split the cost of sponsoring a child? It’s £25 per child per month, so sharing with a friend or family member would only be £12.50. Each sponsored child now has their own page on our website so you can keep up to date with new photos and information there. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com .

Do you recognise these children from yesterday? Clothes make such a difference. Thank you if you donated clothes and/or helped to pay for transport costs. Yesterday was an important day for these children. Let’s see if we can find sponsors to turn their lives around and make their dreams come true. Sarah x

No one has ever become poor by giving (Anne Frank)

Sarah’s blog 10/10/21

Today there was great excitement at The Foundation as 600 children turned up as they knew it was very likely that they would each receive a gift of clothes or shoes from the boxes that Levison brought back from the container a few days ago. He and some of his team have been busy opening boxes and sorting. Levison was able to pay another visit this morning to the local clinic with three big bags of donated baby and toddler clothes, knitted blankets, cardigans and hats. The staff were very grateful and the new mums that were there were each given some gifts for their new babies. There were tears of joy upon receiving these gifts.

There will be lots of photos from today’s gift giving of clothes and shoes to the children, however it takes a while for Levison to be able to collate and send depending if there is a good phone signal where he is. So for tonight, I will share the photos he has sent me. Photos of some children who are desperate for new clothes. Children whose little tummies are distended because of malnutrition. Children who have sadness in their eyes. Children who need our help. Your help.

All of these children are in need of sponsors to ensure they receive more food than the weekly feeding programme that The William Stewart Foundation runs. All have missed lots of school due to trying to do casual labour for the equivalent of 10p per day to try to buy some food. Life is dire for these children but TOGETHER we CAN make positive changes. We CAN help them. Children like these are the reason we collect preloved school uniform and other preloved children’s clothes. They deserve our help. It’s less than 85p per day to sponsor one of these children. Can YOU help change a life today? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading. Sarah x

As you can see, this brother and sister are malnourished and in desperate need of clothes as well as food. I guess Rodrick thinks that one shoe (which is too small for him) is better than none.
Esau is smiling as he knows he will receive a new t-shirt to wear today, thanks to the generous donations we receive.
Desire and Patricia are in need of new clothes and would love to be sponsored

200 pairs of football boots (and some football strips)

Sarah’s blog 9/10/21

Lachie Quade is football mad. As he was growing, so was his collection of football boots. His mum, Kate, made contact with Boots2africa who put them in contact with us. Approximately 200 pairs of football boots and trainers had been collected by Lachie and his parents after they put a shout out, plus football strips too. As you can see from the photo, all the trainers and football boots were cleaned before coming to us. We boxed them all up and took them to The Bananabox Trust in Dundee to await their next container. The boxes have just arrived and this morning Levison and some of his team started unpacking them. They cannot believe how generous people have been and what lovely boots have arrived of all different colours and sizes.

On a previous container, some football strips arrived, courtesy of Julian at Wear a Sports Shirt Day who collects preloved strips from different clubs most weekends. The children and young people love having proper football strips but up until now there weren’t enough football boots and trainers for a whole team.

We look forward to seeing photos in the coming days of the children’s smiling faces as they see the wonderful gifts they have been sent. They know that people care about them. Thank you Lachie for caring about these young footballers in Northern Malawi. You have made a big difference.

The first lot of boxes unpacked at The Foundation. Everyone is delighted.