Levison is finally back with all the boxes and fuel in the truck!

Sarah’s blog 11/09/22

I wrote the comment below on Facebook on Tuesday 7th September. Levison and Sam had been waiting at the fuel station since the afternoon of Sunday 5th September. Little did we know that petrol deliveries wouldn’t arrive in Chitipa until Friday and diesel, which Levison’s truck needs, didn’t arrive until yesterday afternoon. Seven days after they first arrived to try to fill up the truck. It’s been an extremely stressful week but, thanks to friends in Ekwendeni, all the boxes were delivered safely to Levison at the petrol station. Then they still had the long wait for fuel. Thankfully, it seems the country’s fuel shortage is now over.

The first few boxes have been opened today and the donations of clothes will be distributed to the children during the next few days. I will post more photos when I get them. Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported. We couldn’t do what we do without you. It’s always about teamwork. Thanks, Sarah x

“The last couple of days have been extremely stressful for Levison. We have also been concerned. There is a fuel shortage in Malawi, especially in the far north where Levison is. He knew the container was being unloaded yesterday in Ekwendeni, a few hours drive south from him. He had no fuel for the truck and sat at a petrol station in a queue from Sunday afternoon until midday yesterday. No fuel arrived and has still not arrived despite people being told a delivery was imminent.
Levison had contacted some of his friends at the Bananabox Trust and other organisations who help supervise the unloading of the container. They assured Levison they would look after his boxes. Then they suggested that we pay for a truck to take everything north to Levison to save him worrying about when fuel would be available. A member of Bananabox Trust staff was also spared to travel with the truck to ensure everything arrived safely.
We are thankful and delighted to be able to say that the truck with all our boxes has arrived safely with Levison. It is very much appreciated when friends and colleagues go out of their way to help each other.”

Sarah Black, Facebook 7/9/11

In the queue for fuel for seven days

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We are so grateful to our friends who work for Bananabox Trust in Ekwendeni and friends who work for other charities who looked after all our boxes when Levison couldn’t get to the container. They organised a truck, which we paid for, to take all the boxes safely to Chitipa.

Some of the lovely donations in the boxes that have been opened today

Team Mackay visits Dundee!

Sarah’s blog 11/9/22

As you know from yesterday’s blog, Team Mackay have been very busy clocking up kilometres for us in our fundraising event. We want to travel over 13,000km from here to Malawi following one of the routes the boxes take on the container ship, raising awareness and funds for Bright Futures Secondary School. Team Mackay made the news! – Changing Lives Malawi

The Mackay Family are from Drymen and Ewan was involved in the planning of the recent refurbishment of the bus stop in Drymen. It was painted by a talented local artist Cameron Reid and highlights The Rob Roy Way which starts in Drymen.

Yesterday, Team Mackay aka Jackie, Ewan, Ben and Adam, volunteered their trailer to take the last of our boxes to The Bananabox Trust warehouse in Dundee to await the next container. The warehouse is almost full, so it won’t be too long until the next container is packed and sent on its way.

After visiting The Bananabox Trust, they clocked up another 20km in Dundee whilst enjoying the sunshine and visited Discovery Point. Another busy day for Team Mackay! Thanks Jackie, Ewan, Ben and Adam. We appreciate all your help.

If you’d like to pay for a box to go on the container, it costs £15, and you can email me at contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Or to donate to our fundraiser to build a desperately needed secondary school in rural northern Malawi here is the link https://gofund.me/44a92444 Let’s give the gift of education!

Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

The newly painted bus stop in Drymen, the work of local talented artist Cameron Reid
Setting off from Drymen
At The Bananabox Trust Dundee

lots of our boxes awaiting the next container

The Discovery
Clocking up more kilometres

Thoughts & thanks from Levison

Sarah’s blog 18/08/22

I sometimes think I don’t get across the sheer scale of the difficulties faced by the people that Levison and his team are trying to help in the rural far north of Malawi. When he first wanted to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, he was just thinking about those in his village. However, from reading what he has written below, you can see that people are coming every day begging for help, and walking huge distances to get to The Foundation because they have heard that they won’t be turned away. People do not have food to feed themselves or their families.

In addition to the 500+ children who are fed once a week at The Feeding Programme, the 75 preschool children who are fed three times a week in The Nursery, as well as all the other projects and wonderful things that are happening, there are so many others needing our help. These people are feeling forgotten. There are no other charities or big agencies feeding children in that area. It is a huge responsibility for The Foundation and a huge responsibility for us. That is why we rely on your help. That is why we need you as part of our team.

When you give us preloved clothes and shoes, blankets and soap…you will understand the importance of these when you read Levison’s words. It’s also important that we continue to have the funds to send this aid to the most vulnerable people in rural Northern Malawi. So, if you can, please when you donate clothes, shoes, or anything else to us, could you include some money to cover the cost of sending boxes to The Foundation. Or raise some funds for us to continue this important work. It’s £15 per box on the container. People need our help. We need you to be part of our team. Great things are happening but there is more to do. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

“Today when I was resting under a small tree to the south of the resource centre, I shed tears when I was looking at the library/shed, the shower block and other structures around. I thought much of where I am coming from in as far my charity work involvement is concerned.

Almost each and every hour we receive people from far places (some even 40km away) coming to the resource centre to ask for help. Men, women, boys and girls come to beg for food, money and clothes. These are people who really seem to be in dire poverty. We usually make sure they get relaxed, we give them food to eat. For those who may be come with some health issues like headache etc we give them painkillers like panado.

We have reserved, food, clothes, soap etc for such emergencies. When we give them the little we have, they shed tears, roll on the ground etc. These tears are tears of joy. These are the blessings we are receiving from these people. Many ask who is behind this initiative. I myself also shed tears when I hear their stories and see how thankful they are.

As a charity organisation we have contributed a lot to the community and are making a difference to the community. We have electricity, people being fed and clothed. Think of the children and women who are HIV positive, we have improved their nutrition status. On behalf of our children I would like to thank you all for your amazing love and support you are giving to us”

Levison Mlambya, 17/08/22
Some of the younger children at The Feeding Programme
Just one of the families who have been helped by The Foundation. This family’s home had been destroyed in the heavy rains. They were given this home to live in by another villager and The Foundation was able to provide food, blankets, new clothes and match two of the children with sponsors so they have two food parcels going into their home each month.
Here they are in their new, clean clothes with a big bag of maize too.
The family with some more gifts of clothes and shoes

‘On the road again…’

Sarah’s blog 2/8/22

Didn’t someone sing a song about that? Yes… now I’ve got that tune in your heads… the answer is Willie Nelson!!

Stuart and I packed some more boxes and took 16 of them to Dundee today to The Bananabox Trust warehouse to be processed and then await the next container.

Whilst at the BBT warehouse I took some photos to show Levison the chairs that are being sent for the school and a few tables. Hopefully, we will find more secondhand tables here to prevent them going to landfill or local carpenters will make desks in Malawi.

Only a short blog today… wonder if I can add our kms to the challenge? Lol I think that answer will be ‘no’ but I’ve added a map to show you the route of the first 111km that the boxes travel. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Here’s the link if you’d like to add a few £££ to our fundraiser to build a school https://GoFund.me/44a92444

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 30

Sarah’s blog 30/5/22

It’s been a busy day today. I started out by doing a blog about rugby and the great donations we’ve got from Annan Rugby and Merchiston Castle School. I also had a conversation with Jack Mphande, Malawian rugby coach, as he was impressed with these donations. He is planning another trip north to continue the rugby coaching that he’s already started.

Rice and mushrooms for breakfast….it was nice but I am getting rather fed up with my limited diet.

Stuart, my husband (the logistics manager aka box packer and mover) and myself spent a couple of hours at our storage container packing up boxes of donations. These will be taken to The Bananabox Trust warehouse in Dundee next week to await the next container to Malawi. We have only recently been lucky to have this storage facility, paid for by a generous monthly donation. Previously, all of these were kept in our house which was looking more like a warehouse every day! So we are very grateful to have this extra storage facility.

I had a glass of water when I got home then managed 20km on my exercise bike. It took over half an hour but it wasn’t too bad as I’m reading a good book on my tablet at the same time. My knees are sore now though.

More rice and vegetables and a tub of cherry tomatoes filled me up and I’m going to have roasted vegetables for dinner. I am so pleased to have made it to this stage of my challenge. Only one more day to go. I need your help to support me to get to the end of my challenge and to give the gift of education to the children whom The Foundation supports. All children deserve an education. All children deserve to go to school no matter where they are in the world or whatever their circumstances. Please help me to give these children the gift of education. Let’s build a school! https://gofundme/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading and supporting me, Sarah x

Lots of boxes packed today with clothes, shoes, school uniform and books. It costs £15 to send each box on Bananabox Container to Malawi so we are very grateful when people give donations to go towards the cost of sending the items they’ve given us.
The first lot of boxes just need labelling then will be ready to head to Dundee next week
CLM storage container where donations now go and boxes get packed

People who help us

Sarah’s blog 21/03/22

There are so many volunteers behind the scenes that help us and other charities who are supporting people in Malawi. The charity that I’d like to thank in this post is The Bananabox Trust in Dundee and all the people who volunteer their time and energy. Thank you.

It all starts with a donation. Then another and another. It might be a pair of shoes, some clothes or stationery or some books. The donations are packed into boxes and labelled and put on our inventory. When there is a car load, one of our volunteers drives the boxes to Dundee to the Bananabox Trust warehouse. There their volunteers process and label the boxes and all the other donations that people send. There are dentist chairs from the charity Smileawi, hospital equipment, knitting for babies, sports equipment, tables and chairs, and walking sticks to name just a few things!

Most of our boxes have a truck printed on the side…so you’ll be able to see them in the photos. Once the warehouse is almost full, and everyone has paid their £15 per box to cover the cost of the container, The Bananabox Trust organises a container and then volunteers pack all the boxes and other donations onto the container. It’s a very skilled job fitting everything in correctly!

A container was packed at the weekend and has left Dundee today for the docks at Grangemouth. From there it is going to Antwerp. From there it continues it’s long journey to Mozambique and up through Malawi. Once it has cleared customs, it is released to travel to Ekwendeni near Mzuzu. This journey should take about 3 months.

People who are expecting donations all travel to The Mission Hospital at Ekwendeni to collect their boxes and parcels. It’s approximately a 5 hour trip for Levison to collect the boxes from Ekwendeni, but this has been made easier now he has a truck rather than having to hire a truck and driver. There are always a good team of people helping to unload the container and distribute the boxes. Then it’s a 5 hour trip back north to the Foundation.

There is great excitement from the children when they see the boxes coming but it’s quite a challenge to organise and unpack them so it’s done a few at a time. We try to organise things as much as possible here to group them together in age groups for example but sometimes things will be across different boxes depending when they’ve been donated.

I hope you enjoy the photos and learning a bit more about the journey of a box from here to Malawi. Thanks to all who help and make this possible. It costs £15 to transport one box on the container so if you’d like to sponsor a box then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

On the road again…..

Sarah’s blog 11/3/22

We are almost finished again! The Bananabox Warehouse at Dundee is almost full and a container will be packed soon and on it’s way to Ekwendeni in Malawi, probably arriving in June. Thank you everyone for the donations, financial as well as goods. It costs £15 to send a box to cover the costs of the container so any money you can donate towards the container costs is very much appreciated.

Stuart took boxes up earlier this week and all we have left now is a box with lots of great tools that arrived yesterday morning, and a trampoline frame that was dismantled today. That’s two frames that have been donated and they will be turned into the frame of a new polytunnel for growing tomatoes. Hopefully, we may have a few more old trampoline frames donated for next time.

If you’d like to donate £15 to cover the cost of a box then please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . We are also still looking for donations towards sending 3 young sports leaders on a rugby course…. will bring you photos of the 6 young people that have been picked to attend in tomorrow’s post. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend, Sarah x

The Bananabox Trust Warehouse in Dundee
A very generous gift of tools …some of them for the three young men who are making eco stoves
This trampoline was dismantled today and the round frame kindly donated to us. It has been shrink wrapped (along with the nuts and bolts) to make the frame of a polytunnel for growing tomatoes

Container 8 arrived in Ekwendeni safely – Levison’s journey

Sarah’s blog 4/2/22

We collect clothes, shoes, stationery, fabric and other supplies to go to The William Stewart Foundation in the rural north of Malawi where approximately 800 orphans and other vulnerable young people are supported as well as the elderly in the village.

So boxes start of (mostly) in my house, with my ever patient husband Stuart being the expert in packing them. He (and some other lovely volunteers) drive the boxes to The Bananabox Trust Warehouse in Dundee to await the container. Lots of charities send donations via The Bananabox Trust, so they order a container whenever their warehouse is full of boxes and also donations of medical equipment to go to the local hospitals. They charge £15 per box to cover the cost of the container. It’s loaded on a lorry and starts it’s journey to Grangemouth.

After approximately 3 months, the ship docks in Biera, Mozambique and heads north to Malawi to Ekwendeni, near Mzuzu. The lorry brings the container to The Mission Hospital at Ekwendeni and everyone who is expecting boxes is notified a couple of days before that it’s on it’s way. For some people this is a very short journey but for others they come a long way.

On Wednesday late afternoon, Levison and two helpers set out in the truck to Karonga. They arrived late and managed to sleep for a few hours and set out very early yesterday morning to get to Ekwendeni on time for the container being opened. Unfortunately, Levison’s phone had very low charge by then so most of the photos here are shared from friends of The Bananabox Trust on Facebook.

Because of the backlog and delay because of covid restrictions we sent more boxes than usual, plus 10 for Community Sports Leaders Africa in Chitipa. We also sent 20 adult chairs, 15 children’s chairs and 8 tables…. Levison is extremely excited about finally having tables for the children to work on, set the sewing machines on, food preparation etc….so many things that we take for granted. So we thought Levison was going to have to do a double journey as there was going to be too many things for the truck to take safely. However, he found a truck owner going back to Karonga who agreed to take the tables and chairs for Levison to collect from there.

Last night they got back to Ibuluma well after midnight and stored the boxes safely. This morning they set off again to Chitipa to see Wachisa, the football coach who was at The Foundation recently, to take his 10 boxes of sports kit from Community Sports Leaders Africa. Then onwards to Karonga to collect the tables, chairs and a few other boxes. The rain has been heavy so it’s been a long, hard journey on the smaller dirt roads but they’ve done a great job getting everything back safely.

More photos to follow in the coming days and weeks of boxes being opened and distributed. Many thanks to every single person who has donated, packed, delivered boxes and the lovely people at the Bananabox Trust too who document every box and load the container. We are all volunteers so it’s amazing teamwork! And to the helpers who unload the container too and ensure that everyone gets their correct boxes. Thank you, we appreciate you.

If anyone would like to sponsor a box to go on the next container, it’s £15. We can write your name on the box! contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x (the photo of Levison in the truck is from the previous trip to Ekwendeni to collect boxes from container number 7)

Boxes and boxes

Sarah’s blog 14/1/22

It’s been a busy 10 days packing boxes since the schools went back last week. Stuart and I took 20 boxes to Dundee last weekend to The Bananabox Trust Warehouse. The boxes are processed and wait there until there are enough donations from lots of charities and individuals, going to several recipients in Malawi. Once the warehouse is full, a container is ordered and packed by volunteers and then spends approximately 3 months (or slightly less) on it’s journey until arriving at Ekwendeni near Mzuzu. That’s still a long drive from the Foundation for Levison to collect the boxes but so much easier now he’s got the truck.

So today we took another 15 boxes and met Lilian and Stewart, volunteers who were processing the boxes today. Tomorrow, one of our supporters is taking another 10 boxes for us. Each box costs £15 to cover the costs of the container so we have to carefully balance the cost of sending boxes with the need of Levison, his team and the 800 children and young people they support and also the most elderly in the community. 800 is a huge number of orphans and vulnerable children and they have been very grateful for the preloved school uniform, other clothes, shoes, books, and sports kit that has been sent….along with lots of other items. If you’d like to pay for and sponsor a box or boxes to go then we can write your name or a loved one’s name on the box. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

So here are a few photos of our boxes. Today we had an hour to spare and, as it was a beautiful, sunny day, we had a sandwich and an ice cream in St Andrews and a little walk on the beach with the dog. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

17 boxes of reading books donated to Chambo Primary School
fun on the beach at St Andrews after taking a car full of boxes to Dundee
January sunshine and a quick walk on the beach at St Andrews, after delivering boxes to The Bananabox Trust, Dundee
Unloading the container and collecting boxes at Ekwendeni nr Mzuzu. Levison in the new truck.
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