Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world (Nelson Mandela)

Sarah’s blog 8/10/21

As the children, where I live, have finished up for school holidays today, most of them are delighted to get some time off to relax and have fun.

What if your child had just finished primary school but you couldn’t afford the fees to send them to secondary school? What if they were going to have to go out to find casual work to try to buy some food? What if they only got paid between 10p and 30p per day? We all want the best for our children and we want them to be happy.

We want the same for the hundreds or children who are supported by The William Stewart Foundation. Obviously they need to have their immediate needs met like food and clothing, but education is the key to improving each one of their lives. Whatever they choose to do, we want them to have a choice. To be the best that they can be. To be able to support themselves and their families. So in the future there will be no malnutrition. There will be children who have finished secondary education as well as primary education. They might even have gone on to further education and realise their dreams of being teachers, doctors, nurses, farmers and mechanics. But they need a helping hand….they need someone to invest in their future. It’s less than 85p per day to change a child’s life for the better. Can you help? Here are some of the children whose education is over….without your help. Thanks for reading. Sarah x

The Container has landed!

Sarah’s blog 7/10/21
Levison about to start off on the long journey home after collecting the boxes we sent
May be an image of map and text that says '17:09 Safari Tukuyu Ekwendeni x Kyela Chitipa Kama Jones Kaila M14 Muyombe Livingstonia M9 Nyika NationalPark nga Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve Rhumpi Chama Google Euthini Mzu. 。 Ekwendeni Malawi'

So it’s been another busy week for Levison and his team, as well as for us here. As there are approximately 800 orphans and other vulnerable children who receive some form of support from The William Stewart Foundation, as well as some elderly villagers, there is a lot of help required to carry out all the projects to support everyone.

We send boxes of donated preloved clothes, school uniform and sports clothes as well as shoes and flipflops, knitted blankets and books. That is a lot of clothes needed to ensure that each of these children receive something new (to them). As well as it being a gift that all children love to receive, their self-esteem and confidence improve as they are no longer wearing rags and tatty old clothes. They know that people they have never met care about them. They haven’t been forgotten. Sometimes it can be very cold at night and in the early morning, so sweatshirts and woolly hats help to keep them warm.

The children who come to The Foundation, love to play team games especially football and netball. There are several boxes of sports kit, trainers and football boots. Also some footballs…..they are always needing footballs!

Obviously, the first priority is to feed the children as they are so malnourished as they don’t eat properly every day. As there are so many of them, The Foundation can only, at present, feed approximately 500 children once a week. They get a substantial, nourishing meal that includes fresh vegetables. The school teachers have noticed that the children are concentrating better since the feeding programme started and their grades are improving. They are happier and more confident because of the holistic approach taken by Levison and his team.

We look forward to seeing photos in the coming days and weeks of the children receiving some of the donations that are in these well travelled boxes. Malawi is a big country. The Foundation is right at the top near Chitipa and the container goes to a mission hospital at Ekwendeni near Mzuzu. A long way to travel but Levison was able to meet up with friends who were also collecting boxes for their projects. He (and his helpers) had left home at 3.30am yesterday morning and got back at 2.40am this morning. A very long day but a successful one!

May be an image of 2 people, people standing and text
Gifts of new clothes and soap make all the difference to children like Manuel. That is a lot of clothes and soap required to gift to up to 800 children. Thank you to those who donate goods, money, and support us with packing boxes and driving them to Dundee to The Bananabox Trust. We couldn’t do this without you. We are all an important part of the team supporting these children. And, of course, well done Levison and team. You deserve an early night tonight!

Welcome Back

Sarah’s Blog 24/09/21

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog back in June. I don’t know where the time has gone. It’s been busy here and in Malawi and a lot has been achieved.

We’ve changed our name from Friends of The William Stewart Centre Malawi to Changing Lives Malawi. That’s all that’s changed. We still have the same charity number and we are still the same small, committed team of volunteers, working just as hard.

The container that left at the start of summer, is about to arrive in Malawi. Instead of us having to send Levison money to hire a truck to collect the boxes, thanks to generous donations, Levison now has his own (second hand) truck. This will make such a difference as delivery charges have to be paid to everything from maize to building materials. Also the truck can be hired out to help pay for itself.

We’ve been busy collecting school uniforms, shoes and flipflops, study books, sports kits and lots more and we are sending eight tables and 25 chairs on the next container.

Over 70 children and young people now have sponsors but there are 50+ young people, supported by the foundation, have just left primary school after doing their exams. We have managed to match some with sponsors so they can go to secondary school as their fees will be paid. However, that still leaves 30+ young people without sponsors. They have left primary school and that is their education finished. Unless we are able to find them sponsors. Becoming a sponsor is one of the most important things you can ever be to one of these young people. You have the ability to open up a whole new world of opportunities. Education v no education. Can you help? Four years at less than 85p per day is all each young person needs. Thanks Sarahx

Lost Property

Sarah’s blog 7/6/21

Sorry for not blogging for a while but there has been so much going on! We’ve now matched 60 children with sponsors which we are absolutely delighted about. That’s a massive achievement and we are very grateful to everyone who has committed to change a vulnerable child’s life and give them hope for a brighter future.

Chawanangwa Chisale who is 12 had to borrow his sister’s clothes yesterday to go to the centre where gifts were being given out. His own clothes were just rags. Look how smart he looks in new school uniform donated by Riverside Primary School in Stirling. He is in desperate need of a sponsor as he is suffering from malnutrition and also will not be able to go to secondary school unless his fees are paid. Could you be Chawanangwa’s sponsor for less than 85p per day? please do get in touch if you’d like more information.

Now to go back a year……

Riverside Primary School in Stirling, is a large primary school and as well as the mainstream classes it has excellent additional facilities for gaelic language and an autism provision. So in June last year there was a great deal of lost property. The unclaimed items were donated to us for the children. Our car was absolutely full and the washing machine was put to good use washing everything in batches and drying it on the line. I had to pick my days carefully as not every day was a sunny one! Everything was boxed up and we started taking boxes to Dundee to the Bananabox Trust’s warehouse at the end of July. Covid and Brexit had a big hand in delaying this container…. with the container only being able to leave Scotland at the start of March and arriving in Ekwendeni near Mzuzu at the end of May.

I can post some photos and some more information about collecting the boxes another day. Yesterday was all about the younger children receiving preloved school uniform and other clothes…a huge task as there were approximately 600 children there. But they managed and all children received something so we are very, very thankful for the donations and the partnership with local schools…this time Riverside Primary. look at those lovely, happy, smiling faces in the group photo….teamwork is a great thing….if we all do a little act of kindness we can make a big difference. Hopefully, my washing line may be full again at the end of June and through July again this summer and the sun will shine on my washing line! thank, Sarah x #changinglives

Open Photo

May be an image of 6 people, child, people standing, people sitting and outdoors

31 Days in May Challenge – 1st May

Sarah’s blog 01/05/21

Welcome to May….the first day of our 31 days in May challenge.

We are asking for lots of people to do little things to help us during May. Are you up for the challenge? Can you commit to help the hundreds of children in Malawi that need our help? Here are just some of the ways you can support us;

  1. Like and share one of our posts each day in May so we can reach more people, potentially finding more sponsors for hungry children.
  2. Can you buy pencils or pens for 31 children?
  3. Please could you donate £1 a day for each day in May?
  4. Could you sponsor a malnourished child? it costs £25 per month….or two friends could share the cost.
  5. What other random acts of kindness could you help us with in May?

We have an Amazon wish list that some people have spent £31. Someone has promised to take 31 boxes of donated goods to Dundee to await the next container. What could you do?

It’s a real team effort and we’ve all got different skills and talents and we can’t do it without your help. 53 children have been matched with generous sponsors so far but children like James Nyondo, age 6, don’t eat every day. He, and his siblings, are hungry, don’t have blankets or clean clothes. If he had a sponsor, he’d have a monthly food parcel, soap, a blanket and new clothes. Also his secondary school education would be paid for. If you could sponsor James, or know someone who you could share sponsorship with, then please do get in touch. Together we are #changinglives Thank you for reading. Sarahx

A visit to Chisenga School

Sarah’s blog 27/04/21

Sponsored girls at Chisenga Secondary school. Left to right:
Elvin Nyondo, Paulina Nyondo, Maria Nyondo, Doricah Nyondo, Luness Mtambo, Tamara Mfungwe, Dinales Kabaghe, Tamiwe Nyondo, Milliam Mbale, Bethsheba Ng’ambi, Colletta Kaumba, Eness Sibale, Jean Kaonga & Daphless Msongole.

Levison was over near Chisenga School today and was allowed to see the sponsored girls for a few minutes and take some photos. Don’t they look smart in their school uniform? Thanks to their sponsors they have the gifts of education, clean clothes, soap and they have food to eat every day. These girls have been given a big opportunity and they understand how important that is and are extremely grateful.

Each of these girls has benefitted from the following initiatives; Child Sponsorship, The Feeding Programme, Emma’s Rainbow Library, The Period Poverty Project, and learning skills like animal care, growing crops, sewing and knitting. There are so many ways that the children in Malawi are being supported by the generosity of people they have never met. They know people care about them. They know that they are loved. They know they are important. They know they’ve been given a chance. They know they can succeed.

In the local primary school, in their final year, there is a class full of children supported by The Foundation. Children who don’t eat every day, children who are malnourished, children who don’t have soap to wash themselves or their clothes or a warm blanket to wrap themselves in at night. Each of these children is looking for a sponsor so they can take their place at secondary school next year providing they pass their exams. Education is the key to these children’s futures. We need more sponsors. We need people to share posts. We need people to join our team and take a chance on one of these children. It might be one of the best decisions you ever make. It’s only £25 per month. Together we are #changinglives Thanks for reading. Sarah x

Isa’s Orchard

Sarah’s blog 20/04/21

A very personal post for a change. Some of you may have seen this post already. But I wanted to share in case anyone else wanted to contribute on behalf of a loved one.

Stuart’s mum passed away in May, age 89. She had always been interested in hearing about what was going on in Malawi and was proud of what we are achieving and would donate money sometimes towards our charity work. She would have been 90 in November and I had sent money at that time to Levison to buy fruit trees in her memory. Also Stuart and I bought some of our family the gift of some fruit tree saplings for Christmas. We will look forward to seeing the saplings grow and know that it won’t be too long before the trees begin to benefit the whole community when they grow and flourish. So here is Isa’s orchard, in memory of a lovely lady who was very much loved by all her family. Her memory lives on.

If you would like to donate in memory of a loved one who has passed away, or as an environmentally friendly gift for a birthday or other occasion, then you can either contact us by email, or the contact form. Or, on the fundraising page of this website, we have a link to e-cards and e-gifts where you could donate for a special occasion.

Together we are #changing lives Thanks for reading. Sarah x

The Long Walk ….

Sarah’s blog 18/4/21

Patrick age 8 (primary 1) and Emily age 10 (primary 2) are walking over 17km to the nearest maize mill and then 17km back again, balancing their heavy burdens. The maize is not even theirs. They will have been paid a pittance to get this milled for someone else.

Have they eaten? Have they had a drink? Will they be attacked along the way? They and children like them miss school all the time to try to earn a tiny amount as their family can not afford to feed them. They don’t eat all day. They have a drink of dirty water where they can find one. Children, and women, try not to do this journey alone to lessen the chance of being attacked. Women are sometimes beaten anyway when they get home if their husband thinks they’ve been away too long and accuse them of being with another man. Life is just so hard and unfair.

If The Foundation had it’s own maize mill it would be a source of income, as well as protecting children like Patrick and Emily from attack and burdens too heavy for young children. They would not miss school and would not be so exhausted. Patrick and Emily are looking for sponsors. Can you lighten their burden? Sponsorship is £25 a month to support children like Patrick and Emily stay in school, have food to eat, soap to wash themselves and their clothes, they are given a blanket and clean clothes and an education. They are given a chance. Get in touch if you’d like more information. Together we are #changinglives Thanks for reading, Sarah x

31 Days in May Challenge

Sarah’s blog 15/04/21

We all lead busy lives. We are all bombarded by lists of things to do, social media posts and requests for help. We appreciate every single person who has done something to help us get to where we are now with 52 children having sponsors. 52 children with food in their tummies. Thank you so much.

For May, I though I’d try something a bit different. We are operating on a shoestring, fundraising opportunities have not been available during lockdown. There are lots more children who do not eat every day. We are competing with bigger charities for support. We have the personal touch. You know that no one in our very small UK team takes a salary or any expenses.

For the 31 days in May….. could you commit to any of the following;

  1. Sharing one of our social media posts every day of May so we can reach a bigger audience.
  2. Give us £1 a day for 31 days?
  3. Sell 31 things you don’t need and give the proceeds to us?
  4. Do a challenge involving the number 31 and highlight it on social media and tag us in the posts?
  5. Go without a bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps for the month of May and donate the money saved to us?
  6. Could you be sponsored for something involving the number 31 or over 31 days?
  7. There must be loads more ideas that you could think of?

So as you can see, we don’t ask for anything big (unless you want to) but by sharing one of our posts every day for 31 days we will reach a far bigger group of people. Imagine 31 people shared a post each day for 31 days….. that would mean that a whole new audience would read about our work and all the vulnerable children in Northern Malawi supported by The William Stewart Foundation. We have over 500 Facebook followers so, fingers crossed, some will commit to help.

I would be over the moon if 31 more children could be matched with sponsors during May…. a huge ask ….. but it’s possible with enough help and shares. 31 children who would then be able to eat every day. 31 children who would receive new clothes, a blanket, soap and education. We can’t do it by ourselves. We are only one piece of the jigsaw. We need your help and support. Please? Every day, something simple, for the 31 days in May. Together we are #changinglives Thank you, Sarah x

Why #changing lives?

Sarah’s blog 13/04/21

#changing lives …… it’s probably the best way to sum up what we do. Whether we are raising money for the feeding programme, or clean water, providing blankets, a bar of soap, clothes, fundraising for buildings, providing books…. each of these things, however big or small, is #changinglives.

One of the most important decisions you could ever make would be to sponsor a child with us. As well as the child’s physical needs being met you, as a sponsor, give the gift of hope. The sponsored child knows that you care enough to help them. To be their helping hand out of extreme poverty and malnutrition. Hope and help for a brighter future. When you sponsor a child you become part of their team. Together we are #changinglives

Below is some of the information we give to people enquiring about sponsoring a child.

We now have 52 of the most vulnerable children sponsored. However, there are many more waiting. All of the children the Foundation supports are living in extreme poverty. They are fed a nutritious and filling meal once a week but some children might go several days without food. They miss school as they have to work for a pittance to try to help their families. Most of the time the children live with either one parent or, more commonly, grandparents.

Sponsoring a child means they will have hope. They know someone cares about them. They have a brighter future. Sponsored children will continue to have access to the feeding programme and will get a monthly food parcel and soap for their family. This isn’t enough for the whole month but will help supplement their diet. We want to give people the helping hand they need but not become totally reliant on food parcels. They would love to be self-sufficient and that is our aim too.

A sponsored child will also have new clothes and a blanket, soap and stationery supplies for school. Once they get to secondary school, their fees will be paid, uniform bought and any other supplies they need. 50 children age under 6 attend our nursery (paid for by a monthly donation). The nursery runs three sessions a week and these children are given porridge at each session. There has also been new uniform donated for all the nursery children.

If you would like to get involved, or have more questions, then please do get in touch with us. Sponsorship is £25 per month per child (85p per day) and you can sponsor as an individual, family or two friends can split the cost of sponsoring a child. You may like to send some gifts to your sponsored child. Please note that this is not a requirement, but something you may like to do. You can send something each time we are sending boxes to go on the container or, you might just want to send gifts once a year. It’s totally up to you. Preloved things are fine but only if they are in very good condition and are appropriate for your sponsored child. Some suggestions are; shirts, skirts/shorts/trousers, underwear, jumper, waterproof jacket, woolly hat or baseball cap, wind up torch, candles, soap, books, pads of paper, colouring books, stationery, sewing or knitting supplies, umbrella, toothbrush/toothpaste, small tool kit, bag etc. You can send a sealed bag of sweets with a long sell by date but no chocolate. If you aren’t sure of something then please ask as we are happy to help you. (please note that culturally girls wear skirts or dresses NOT trousers or leggings).

Thank you so much for helping to change your sponsored child’s life. They can now complete their education and have hope for a better future. They also know they are important and that you care about them. We look forward to seeing your child grow and be the best they can be thanks to your support. Sarah Black Development Manager Friends of The William Stewart Centre, Malawi.

This is Timothy, my sponsored child. His grades at school have improved now he has food in his tummy and can concentrate better. It is a privilege to be part of his life and see the change in him. Thanks for reading. Sarah x

What does extreme poverty mean?

Sarah’s blog 11/4/21

In 1943 Abraham Maslow developed his theory of hierarchy of needs. Whilst there are many other theorists, this diagram perfectly demonstrates how we cannot reach our potential if our basic needs are not being met.

The children supported by the Foundation are starting to achieve as we (the charity) are doing our best to meet their basic needs by raising funds, finding sponsors and raising awareness of their plight. We cannot comprehend what it must be like not to eat every day, be cold at night, to be wearing rags, not to feel safe. However, we can try our best to be the helping hand they need to improve their situation. Eventually, we and they want to aim for self-sufficiency but basic needs have to be met first.

Without food, clean water, sleep, clothes, shelter etc they cannot begin to think past their basic needs. If you are hungry can you concentrate? Do you have energy? If you are cold and don’t feel safe can you sleep? If you are wearing dirty, old clothes will your self-esteem be good? How would your mental health be if this was your life? All of the children that the Foundation supports have been affected by trauma and adverse childhood experiences. All have experienced loss.

With your help we can continue to improve the lives of these children. Fifty two children now have sponsors but many, many more are desperate for help. Each sponsored child receives; a monthly food parcel, soap, new clothes, a blanket, continued access to the feeding programme and education. We can’t do this by ourselves. Here, at the charity, we recognise how important teamwork is. We can’t do this alone. Can you join us in being part of the team around one of the children who needs a sponsor? It might be one of the most important things you ever do. Bit by bit, one by one, we are #changinglives

Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Great news – two new corporate partners

Sarah’s blog 9/4/21

Big thanks to these two generous companies; Welding Engineers and Lochlie Construction for their kind donations and agreeing to partner with us on two projects for the Foundation. One of our trustees has been working hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

Welding Engineering have kindly donated money which is being used for costs associated with the apprenticeship project. They are delighted that the apprentices have started making the eco stoves which will, initially, benefit the vulnerable in the community. “It’s great to see what simple things, like the eco stoves, can do to help.”

There are many benefits to these stoves including the fact that they use far less wood. Here is a link to see how they are made.…/Changu-Changu-Moto-step-by…

Photos of the first eco stoves were sent to Ripple Africa and they emailed back to say how delighted they were “Thanks for sharing your wonderful news and success.” The overall aim is that the apprentices make the bricks and build enough stoves for the entire village. This will enable the villagers to have safer cooking facilities which are quicker and use less wood, meaning less time spent searching for wood and better for the environment. There will also be more trees planted as funds allow. A great project for the whole community and one that the apprentices can be proud of.

Lochlie Construction have generously donated money for Levison to buy an incubator to hatch more eggs from The Foundation chickens. We are looking forward to seeing the photos of that project as the first baby chicks hatch. Thank you so much to these two very generous companies. We are delighted that you’ve invested in us and the wonderful work being done in Malawi by The William Stewart Foundation, whom we raise funds and awareness for. Together we are #changinglives

If anyone else would like to partner with us then please do get in touch. Thanks. Sarah x