Blog

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. https://rippleafrica.org/…/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

Pretty in Pink

Sarah’s blog 6/4/21

The nursery at the Foundation started because Levison had noticed that the younger children were still coming to the Foundation whilst the older children were at school. They had nowhere to go. I found someone willing to donate to the monthly running costs of the nursery and it was set up for fifty children, three times a week. Levison had asked about the possibility of a uniform.

As my birthday is after Christmas, the January sales are a great time to grab a bargain with birthday money. I happened to find all these lovely pink gingham dresses, in small sizes, at a fraction of the usual price. I was delighted to have got such a good deal. I bought red t-shirts for the boys and all the children were amazed when they were given new clothes for the very first time. However, there were only enough for one for each child. I have been keeping an eye out for a similar bargain this year but unfortunately I think it was a one off.

Levison and I have decided that for the future nursery uniform for boys and girls will be a red t-shirt. They can be given two t-shirts each, enabling their clothes to be washed. So if anyone would like to donate to the nursery uniform we will be collecting plain red t-shirts (either round neck or polo shirts) in sizes 3-4 and 4-5, or if you’d prefer to donate some money, I am happy to buy them. The school clothes sections of some supermarkets have plain red t-shirts. Also these children need new underwear; girls and boys pants ages 3-4 and 4-5. The first picture was last year when they received their new uniforms, the middle two photos were last week and the last photo was today where each child was given a bar of soap to take home to help their family wash themselves and their clothes. thanks for reading. Sarah x

The story behind preloved school uniform collection….

May be an image of 7 people, child, people sitting and people standing

Sarah’s blog 5/4/21

These school jumpers are part of the uniform of Riverside Primary School in Stirling. There are several boxes of their school uniform on the container that is currently travelling to Malawi. We’ve had uniform donated by families with children at lots of local primary schools. It’s been a great way of introducing ourselves in the local community and telling the story about how the children have nothing and their struggles. People have been very generous, and children grow so quickly, so there has been a great response to our uniform appeal.

In Ibuluma, Northern Malawi, where the Foundation is, it can get cold at night. Most of the vulnerable children don’t even have blankets and sleep on a mat on the floor. A school jumper is a way of keeping them warm at night as well as being able to give each child a new set of clothes; tshirt, skirt or trousers/jumper. These children have never had new things so are delighted when they receive something new (to them).

I’ve been able to go into one local primary school to talk to two classes and several visits in a nursery class. The children were so interested in life in Malawi. Unfortunately, coronavirus has curtailed any more visits for the last year but, hopefully, visits to schools will be allowed again within a few months.

So next time you see photos of the children in Malawi in preloved uniform from schools in Central Scotland, you’ll know that there have been appeals, conversations happening, information exchanged about the children supported by the Foundation. Conversations involving generous people and making connections with them. Telling the children’s stories, making their voices heard. Conversations about how the uniform gets there (Bananabox Trust in Dundee orders a container when their warehouse is full of donations for different organisations in Northern Malawi). We are charged £15 per box to cover the cost of sending goods on the container and it can take 2-3 months to get there.

From having nothing but the rags they were standing up in, the children now have smart new clothes with a jumper to keep them cosy. They are more confident as they are no longer ashamed of their appearance and warmer at night. They know that people care about them. They have hope for a better future. Together we are #changinglives. Sarah x

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Sarah’s blog 3/4/21

The above quote is by Dr Seuss. I have spent many a tongue-tied evening over the years reading the silly rhyming books to my children. Favourites like ‘Cat in the Hat’, ‘Green Eggs & Ham’ and ‘Fox in Socks’.

Reading for young children should be engaging and fun. Books should have great pictures to be able to talk about and get clues to the stories. Young children can pretend they are reading and they’ve learned to turn the pages and follow the words with their fingers from left to right by watching others. This is even before actual reading begins.

So if you’ve missed out on this stage because there were no books at home and your parents are illiterate (so couldn’t read to you even if you had a book) how much of a disadvantage do you have? How many hours of pre-school ‘reading’ have you missed out on?

Even schools in rural Northern Malawi don’t have many books and resources. How are children supposed to learn to read if they don’t have books to practice reading? That’s why we have started the ‘School Literacy Project’ to put boxes of donated books into schools local to the Foundation.

When we receive donated books, we sort them into different age groups. We have labels to put inside each book saying it’s been gifted as part of the ‘School Literacy Project’. A box will contain at least 50 books and also strong polythene bags and a note for the teacher. These books can be taken home and enjoyed with the child’s family, taken back to school and swapped for another. Children will hopefully read aloud to younger siblings, who will see that reading a book is a normal everyday activity. We are even hoping that it may help adults be more open to attending literacy classes when we have the resources and funds to implement this.

The aim of this project is to improve the reading age of all children in the far north of Malawi. Levison will deliver these boxes of books round the local primary schools as fast as we can send them. Class sizes are between 50-80 children. As books are donated, the only cost to this project is the polythene bags to protect the books, the labels and it costs £15 on the container to send each box of books. £15 isn’t much money for the gift of reading, enjoying books and learning. I remember the head teacher at my eldest son’s first school saying ‘I might not know how to fix a car, but if I can read then I can teach myself.’ Improving reading levels the key to these children’s futures. If you would like to support this project then please get in touch. Together we are changing lives. Sarahx

You were always on my mind…

Sarah’s blog 2/4/21

I have been thinking a great deal about these children (and all the others like them). I can’t imagine what it must be like, as a parent, not to be able to feed my children. As a parent, not to be able to give my children clothes or shoes. Sometimes they may have been preloved clothes, and sometimes we had to watch the pennies, but we’ve always had enough.

What must it be like not to have enough? Not to have blankets for your children, not to have food to give them every day, not to have soap to wash your children or their clothes, not to have hope that things are going to improve. What must that do to your mental health? These two families are suffering.

It is my responsibility to try to match them with sponsors. The children supported by The Foundation are always on my mind. They live in such extreme poverty. They need a helping hand. It costs £25 per month to sponsor a child. Two friends could sponsor a child to split the cost if needed. Or could you provide a food parcel for one of these families? How about making a monthly donation to our feeding programme? £5 per month donation will provide 52 meals for 4 children each year.

Elinah and her three cousins, and Mwiza and his three sisters are all suffering from malnutrition. Only Mwiza, who is disabled, has a sponsor. Please can you join our team of sponsors. 52 children are sponsored already…can you make that 53? 54? 55? Thanks for reading and if you’ve more questions then just ask. Sarah x

Sarah’s Blog

Mwiza and his family

Sarah’s blog 30/03/21

Mwiza was highlighed recently, showing what a difference a sponsor can make to a child, especially Mwiza who is disabled. He has been suffering from malnutrion and has had no toys to stimulate him while he sits on his mat all day. Now his muscles are getting stronger because of food to eat and picture books to look at. Toys are on the way and that smile is just gorgeous.

I knew he had one sister, but I wasn’t aware until today that he had three sisters. There are hundreds of children desperate for help, and Levison can’t tell me about them all and the stories of each child. But here is this family’s story.

Mwiza, age 12, lives with both parents and his three siblings. However, their dad is sick so unable to work or provide for his family. All responsibility falls on their mum. She can’t possibly earn enough money to keep them all. She has Mwiza and her sick husband to care for. Life is hard for everyone in Ibuluma but even more so for this family.

We are looking for sponsors for each of these three girls. Sponsorship is £25 per month per child or just under 85p per day. That provides food, a blanket, clothes, soap and education. Imagine the difference that would make to this family if they knew that there was more food for them all. If mum could spend time with her sick husband and with her disabled son. Imagine being part of the team around this family. Get in touch if you would like to help us continue #changinglives

Feeding the Hungry!

Sarah’s blog 29/02/21

There will always be hungry children in this world. There shouldn’t be but unfortunately there are.

Levison wanted to feed the 200 or so orphans and vulnerable children in his village and surrounding area. However, there are no big charities feeding children in schools in the far North of Malawi. So more and more children come. Some walk 20km to reach the Centre. To reach their one proper meal of the week.

It only costs £15 to feed a malnourished child one proper meal every week for a year. Multiply that by 600 (which is the average number of children turning up each Saturday for food…….that’s £9,000!! We just don’t have £9,000 per year.

For sponsored child at primary school £5 per month goes towards the feeding programme. So, in theory, if we had 150 primary school age children sponsored, this would cover the cost of the feeding programme for all the children supported by the Foundation. Currently, we have approximately 30 children who are still at primary school who are fortunate enough to have sponsors. Please can you help us find more sponsors?

Whilst we recognise that lots of people have struggled during the last year with financial issues due to covid, there are those who haven’t had to buy lunch at work or pay for travel costs to and from work each day. Would you be able to spare 85p per day…..that’s all each child needs. Together we are #changinglives

A Busy Day @ Charity HQ

We’ve had lovely free range eggs donated by Hilltop Hens as their hens are so happy they have started laying more than usual…..so we have an honesty box and boxes of eggs in the front garden.

Yesterday there was another donation of beautiful knitted baby hats and someone else kindly donated some crutches that Levison will be able to give to those who need them.

Today, we have heard that we are having a donation of books for our school literacy project. Thanks to all the people supporting us.

If you are able to support us by donating money towards covering the cost of sending each box (£15 each box) we would be so grateful as without your help we won’t be able to do what we do.

Have a good day……… Sarah