Container 11 has arrived!

The container has arrived and been unloaded

Sarah’s blog 24/07/23

It’s a long process to send boxes to Malawi. Firstly, we take the boxes to Dundee to The Bananabox Trust warehouse. When their warehouse is full of boxes (from individuals and other organisations) they order a container which goes to Ekwendeni, near Mzuzu. We are charged £17.50 per box to cover the cost of the container. It takes approximately 3 months for the container to arrive in Ekwendeni which is still several hours drive south of where The Foundation is.

Levison and two helpers left last Wednesday to be in Ekwendeni for Thursday when they were hoping the container would be there. Unfortunately, the lorry that the container was on broke down and only arrived this morning. So there has been a lot of wasted time, waiting around, and a lot more expense for meals and overnight accommodation.

However, this morning, the waiting was over and the container was opened. The boxes and other items were all unloaded and handed to the people from charities and organisations who were there patiently waiting to collect them. It’s always a good time to catch up with friends and acquaintances when everyone gathers on container day and Levison was able to spend time with several people he knows.

Once they were sure they had everything safely, it was time to pack the truck. They are now on their way home with all the boxes which will be opened over the next few weeks. Levison is also delivering boxes to a football coach in Chitipa on behalf of Community Sports Leaders Africa (who donated the netball posts in recent photos). There are resources for Bright Futures Secondary School, lots of baby knitting and primary school uniform donations as well as three big boxes of school shoes from charity for the students at Bright Futures Secondary School. They will be amazed and delighted when they see the gifts and resources that have been sent.

We want to thank The Bananabox Trust in Dundee for their hard work in organising the container and the volunteers who label the boxes and pack the container and everyone in Ekwendeni who helps on container day. It’s difficult for Levison, travelling from a long distance away, to collect the boxes we send (most people are local to Ekwendeni or Mzuzu) but we are very grateful for those friends who give of their time and offer assistance to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

We are looking forward to bringing more photos when boxes are opened and of the progress of building the next phase of the school. My sister, Joanne, has been doing a wonderful job with her walking challenge in July. She is trying to raise money towards the next phase of Bright Futures Secondary School whilst facing personal challenges. Her story and the link to her fundraiser is here . If you can share a few £££ then please do head over to her fundraising page to keep encouraging her towards the end of her challenge. Showing your support will make all the difference to her and to the orphans in Malawi who need another classroom. Many thanks for all the support so far, Sarah x

Levison surrounded by boxes
some of the donations from Community Sports Leaders Africa
Levison’s truck
The container arriving at Ekwendeni

Rugby Donations & boxes

The children and young people are looking forward to another visit from the Rugby Development Officer.

Sarah’s blog 13/05/23

Yesterday Stuart and I went to The Bananabox Trust Warehouse in Dundee with a car full of boxes and rugby balls. We are really grateful to all the volunteers at The Bananabox Trust who process everything and then order and pack the container once their warehouse is full. We are charged £17.50 per box to cover the cost of the container so if you would like to sponsor a box then please do get in touch…we can write your name on the box!

Thanks to Bruce Aitchison, housemaster at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh for supplying us with rugby balls, boots and kit.

Thanks also to Gordon and Michael for collecting kit from Grangemouth RFC, Hillfoots RFC, Stirling County RFC, Blaydon RFC (Newcastle) and Glasgow Warriors kit. Michael is also going to Edinburgh to the Scottish Rugby Union this week to collect lots of training kit. The SRU are also kindly giving us some new jerseys to auction. Well done and thank you!

In September we are facilitating Malawi Rugby’s development officer, Jack Mphande, to pay another visit for two weeks to coach and train teachers and students at several primary schools. Jack will also spend two days working with the older orphans we help to support. We do need help with financial support for this event and it would be a good opportunity to advertise your business.

Thanks to everyone who is helping us to support the projects in Malawi and make lives brighter for the hundreds of orphans who we help to support. Thank you, Sarah x

Bruce, housemaster at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh with some of the donated kit and boots
Students at Bright Futures Secondary School with the Merchiston Castle School kit, balls and boots that were generously donated.

The very long journey

Sarah’s blog 13/12/22

I have saved writing this until I knew that Levison and his two helpers were back at The Foundation safely.

On Thursday afternoon, they left Ibuluma (in the very far north) to travel to Ekwendeni (near Mzuzu) where the Bananabox Trust container gets unloaded. The message was sent that the container was arriving on Friday morning, so off they set.

They travelled to Karonga firstly then onto Mzuzu where they were able to purchase a small amount of science equipment for Bright Futures Secondary School before being at Ekwendeni for the container being opened and unloaded. The roads, and the fact that it is now the rainy season, slows everything down and they have to travel slowly and carefully.

We had sent more aid on container number 10 as we were offered chairs for Bright Futures Secondary School so there was always going to have to be two journeys made; one with boxes and one with 8 tables and 130 chairs.

The plan was that the driver and assistant took the boxes back on Friday to Ibuluma whilst Levison stayed with the chairs and tables and that the truck would return for him on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to heavy rain, they didn’t make it as far as Ibuluma on Friday night because the roads were unsafe. A safe place was found for all the boxes in Chitipa. The truck then went back to Ekwendeni on Saturday. However, as they didn’t arrive until late, they had to stay overnight and set off with the chairs and tables on Sunday. Again, because of heavy rain, they got as far as Chitipa and slept in the truck and completed the journey to Ibuluma on Monday morning.

The teenagers from Bright Futures Secondary School helped to unload the chairs and tables and were amazed to see the lovely chairs. Levison and the driver then went back to Chitipa to collect the desks that the carpenter had made for one of the classrooms. They brought those back safely and intended to go back to collect all the boxes, however it started raining heavily again. They decided it was safer to have a good night’s sleep and to set off early this morning to collect the boxes. Plans had to change again. The roads weren’t safe to travel because of the rain until mid-morning. Finally, the boxes were collected, and they headed to fill up with diesel before heading back to Ibuluma. Another twist in the tale….no diesel. However, they were told it was on it’s way. So, more waiting.

We really don’t realise how difficult things can be when trying to make plans. The rural location of The Foundation, in the far north of Malawi certainly puts it at a disadvantage and also the community are at a disadvantage too. Fuel is expensive. There are no big agencies feeding children in schools in that area at all. They are very much forgotten. This is why the work that The Foundation does is so important. Children are hungry. Children need education. Children need clothes. Children need a helping hand. Hundreds and hundreds of vulnerable children who need our help to a brighter future and need you to help change their lives for the better.

After a long wait for diesel, they were finally able to fill up and travel slowly but safely back to the Foundation at 9.30pm. Good job done everyone and thank you to everyone who has been involved whether you’ve donated goods, money, packed boxes, driven boxes to Dundee, thanks to our friends at The Bananabox Trust for the work they do itemising everything and packing the container. Another successful mission completed to help some of the most vulnerable people in rural northern Malawi.

If you would like to support the projects we are helping, you can either email or donate to Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the photos and videos, Sarah x

Container 10 at Ekwendeni

Some of the chairs we sent
A lot of boxes on the truck!
Levison at Ekwendeni
The chairs arriving at The Foundation and some of the teens helping unload
8 tables and 130 chairs have arrived safely
There has been lots of heavy rain
Teenagers helping to unload all the chairs
The new desks that the carpenter has made
Arriving safely with all the boxes
helping to bring all the boxes in safely
A job well done!

Christmas Fundraising & news update

Sarah’s blog 8/12/22

There is so much going on both in Malawi and here, so I thought I would do a quick update.

  1. Our charity accounts and trustees’ report have been completed and filed with OSCR. We now have three years of completed accounts and our charity is progressing well, thanks to all the support we have received. More grants can be applied for as many organisations require three years accounts from applicants.
  2. I am continuing to try to raise funds to support the projects; education and feeding the orphans continue to be our priorities; and we must reach more people to try to get more awareness and more support to ensure that children are fed and that phase 2 of Bright Futures Secondary School can be built next year. If you would like to contribute to the school project the link is here or you can email Why not make a monthly donation to support the feeding of 500+ orphans? Or if you are in a position to gift £500 or more then you can have your name, a name or your choice or your business name above a classroom door or one of the other new buildings.
  3. Fundraising calendars – I still have some available. These make great Christmas gifts. These are only £10 plus £2 p&p. As one of our trustees paid for these to be printed, all of the £10 will go towards Bright Futures Secondary School. We have alternative gift cards available, paintings and packs of cards by Christine Cresswell one of our trustees who has donated her time and talents to raise funds for our charity. Have a look and see what you can buy for Christmas without leaving the house! The link to all the fundraising items is in a previous blog post here Christmas Cards & Gifts – Changing Lives Malawi
  4. The container is due in Ekwendeni any day now. Levison is just waiting for confirmation then he will be travelling south to collect the boxes and chairs that we sent. Thank you to everyone who donated items to be sent. There will be great excitement when the chairs and the boxes arrive.
  5. Government schools will close for the Christmas holidays on 16th December. Because Bright Futures Secondary School was a bit late opening, due to having to raise funds as we go, the teachers have kindly suggested that the school remains open for an extra few days. So, the last day of term at Bright Futures Secondary School will be 21st December and a Christmas party, for all the 500+ orphans and other vulnerable children, will be held on 22nd December which they are all very much looking forward to. We thank the generous donors who gifted money to feed the children an extra time to enable there to be a party.
  6. Desks for the classrooms are being made thanks to donations we have received. If you would like to purchase a desk for use by a student, they are £20 each.
  7. As it has been so busy, unfortunately, we have not had as many updates about sponsored children as we would have liked. I have now linked with one of the teachers who will work with me to remedy this and sponsors will be able to hear from their sponsored children a lot more regularly.
  8. If you would like me to come and talk at your club, church or school (or for any event) I’d love to hear from you. I have a laptop, projector and screen and lots of photos to show!

Thank you for reading and supporting us, Sarah x

Our fundraising calendar will make a great Christmas gift – £10 each (all of the £10 goes towards the school project) plus £2 p&p
Some of the school desks – £20 each
The front of the alternative gift card
Inside the alternative gift card – just circle or tick the gift you are wishing to purchase. A football is £10, 4 fruit tree saplings £10, soap for 100 children £40 and transportation of a box of books is £20

The Container Ship – Alana

Sarah’s blog 4/10/22

Yesterday, The Alana, the container ship carrying The Bananabox Trust container with our boxes, has now arrived at Antwerp, Belgium after leaving Scotland from Grangmouth Port. We were following its journey earlier and took these screenshots at lunchtime today.

So, the race is on….can we collect 13,444 kilometres, which is the distance the boxes travel from here to The Foundation, before the container arrives in Malawi at the end of November/start of December? We are now 40.58% of the journey covered which is 5,334.133 kilometres! Well done everyone!! Now we need to try to get the other 59% of kilometres collected….can we do it before the container arrives?

We need you to donate your kilometres….just from your usual walks, runs or cycles…. just email me to tell me how many kilometres and I’ll add it to the total. If you want to send a photo too then that’s great but not necessary if you want to remain anonymous. The more people who take part then the quicker we will get to our total….so please do email

The whole reason for collecting kilometres is to raise funds for and awareness of the new school we are helping to build…. Bright Futures Secondary School. The most vulnerable young people who are supported by The Foundation will be able to attend secondary school free of charge. We want all children to have the gift of education. It is their way out of poverty. If you can spare £10 we would be so grateful. We just need 400 people to each donate £10 then we can get the roof on the school! You can donate here I’ll post more photos from the school build during the next couple of days. They builders are working really hard, and progress is being made every day!

Thank you for reading and supporting and please do get in touch to donate your kilometres. Thanks, Sarah x

The Alana is the container ship on which the Bananabox Trust container has been loaded
First stop Antwerp, Belgium

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 Or to donate to our fundraiser to build a desperately needed secondary school in rural northern Malawi here is the link 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. 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

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 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 . 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
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