The Polytunnel (aka The Craig Povey Up The Villa Polytunnel)

Sarah’s blog 1/12/22

We recycled a couple of old trampoline frames and sent them on the container to be used to help build a polytunnel.

Agriculture is one of the subjects on the curriculum in Malawi and, with their teacher, the young people have made the polytunnel and planted mustard, tomatoes and onion. I think it looks very impressive and, hopefully, the food will be able to be used for school lunches at Bright Futures Secondary School.

This is an opportunity that these teenagers have had to learn more skills for life and a better brighter future. How amazing to be able to grow your own food successfully and feed yourself and your friends. Hope you enjoy looking at the photos and thank you for your support, Sarah x

First Day of Bright Futures Secondary School 07/11/22

Sarah’s blog 07/11/22

What an exciting, historic day for Ibuluma! The first day of secondary school in the village at Bright Futures Secondary School. It is for orphans and other vulnerable children. It is giving them an opportunity for an education and a brighter future that they would not normally have had. Secondary school needs to be paid for in Malawi and none of these children or their families would be able to afford to pay.

We are expecting more students to turn up this week as word spreads that the school is now open for lessons. Some young people will have been doing manual work to bring in a small amount of money at home whilst they were waiting for school to start. All of the young people who have been offered places this year are known to the Foundation and receive support via the feeding programme and other projects. In future, when more classrooms have been built, students from other primary schools other than Chambo primary school will be able to attend.

As you will see, there were enough chairs today which have been ‘borrowed’ from the library. Any more students coming later in the week will have to sit on mats on the floor. There are 130 chairs on the container that should be arriving in the next three or four weeks. Desks are something we are still fundraising for and more textbooks so if you are able to support the young people with this then we (and they) would be very grateful. https://gofund.me/44a92444 Enjoy the videos and photos, Sarah x

VIP Visitors to Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 4/11/22

An amazing and very busy day at The Foundation! Lots of dignitaries were invited to see Bright Futures Secondary School prior to its opening on Monday. There were several village chiefs, head teachers from other local schools, head of the area police and church leaders as well as a few other representatives from the community. All of them were delighted with phase 1 of the school and the chiefs all spoke about how grateful they were for the donors and the work that is being done by Levison and team.

One chief, who hadn’t been to secondary school, said he wished the school had been there 20 years ago so he could have studied there. He asked Levison if he could visit the students at the school to talk to them and tell them how fortunate they are and to study hard. Another chief asked if adults could go to the school. Unfortunately, there isn’t room for them at the same time as the children, however Levison was able to tell them about the plans for adult literacy and numeracy classes.

The head chief said that he was going to ensure all the families of students knew that they had a responsibility to ensure their child behaved well and studied hard. The police chief said that he would ensure the protection of the teachers, staff and the work going on at The Foundation and, with the chiefs, would ensure all the villagers know who the new teachers are and that they must be respected.

On entering the classrooms, one of the men started crying. He couldn’t believe what had been achieved when, not so very long ago, there was nothing there. Now hundreds of the most vulnerable children over the next few years will have the gift of education. They will be given a way out of poverty and the chance of a brighter future. The VIPs listened to Levison and also asked lots of questions and wanted the donors to know how grateful they are for what is being done for the children in their community. So, on behalf of everyone in Ibuluma, if you have donated towards the school project – THANK YOU. We couldn’t help the hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children without you.

The teachers have arrived and will be working some of this weekend with Levison to plan a timetable and plan their lessons for Monday. Of course, the children who come to The Foundation at the weekend will be interested to meet the new teachers! If you would like to contribute to help us to send money for desks, then here is the link https://gofund.me/44a92444

Busy times but thankful and grateful for all that has been achieved and for the people who are on this journey with us to provide a brighter future an continue Changing Lives Malawi. Enjoy the photos, Sarah x

The school has been built!

Sarah’s blog 29/10/22

Wow! The building of phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School is complete. Thank you to each of you who have helped and supported us and the team in Malawi. It’s an amazing achievement and so exciting.

At times we thought this dream was just too big and that we were going to have to wait until next year for it to be a reality. However, the fact that there aren’t enough places in the nearest secondary schools spurred us on. Even though children were passing their primary school leavers exams, if they didn’t get picked for a place at secondary school then they couldn’t go. Education is the way out of poverty for these children and a chance of a brighter future. We had to keep going. So here is an update on where we are with the project.

phase 1 – Two classrooms have been built. The steps and ramp will be started now the actual building is finished. Some teachers’ accommodation has been built. Due to the very rural location this is a necessity. A latrine block for adults will be completed in the next few days. The school is called Bright Futures Secondary School, in memory of a special lady and the school will offer the most vulnerable teenagers a brighter future.

The class sizes will be far smaller than other secondary schools, 45 children per class maximum. In other schools it can be up to 90. There will be a full class of S1 and S2 students. Until we are able to raise more funds for more classrooms the S3 students will be using the library as their learning space or alternating with the other classes when they are accessing the library.

We are by no means finished and must raise more funds to ensure Bright Futures Secondary School is a success. We had a generous grant from The Souter Charitable Trust for £3,250 which was for textbooks. However, we do still need to spend approximately £1,000 on more textbooks. Unfortunately, because of the poverty in Malawi there are never second-hand textbooks for sale so we will have to buy new ones. With your help we can do this. https://gofund.me/44a92444

130 chairs and 8 tables are on the container that will arrive within the next month. We need your help with building desks. There are school jumpers, school bags, filled pencil cases, dictionaries, small windup torches, and other supplies for the students who will be starting at Bright Futures Secondary School. We will need to buy notebooks for the students too. We also need to provide a snack for each student to ensure that everyone has eaten something every day. Teachers are being interviewed and it won’t be long before the school doors are open for learning to begin! Bright Futures and Changing Lives! https://gofund.me/44a92444

All of this would not be possible without the wonderful support we’ve had. Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed. Going forward, in years to come, thousands of children will benefit from this new school project and benefit from your help. So, on behalf of each and every one of them a HUGE THANK YOU. You have made a difference.

phase 2 – we are fundraising for the next phase of the school already so please do donate if you can. We intend to add; two new classrooms, two new latrine blocks, and a staffroom in phase 2. Each classroom in phase 1 build has cost £10,000 so we have another big challenge ahead. With your help we can continue changing lives.

phase 3 and 4 – this involves more classrooms, dedicated computer and science classrooms and hopefully dormitories for the most vulnerable who have nowhere else to stay or live too far away.

Kilometre Challenge – We are trying to race against the container ship that is on it’s way to Malawi with our boxes. I’ll find out the exact location for an update tomorrow. We are asking people to add their kilometres to our total…you don’t need to be sponsored….just get in touch and tell us how many kilometres you’ve been walking to and from school, walking the dog, cycling, or running…whatever it is that you’ve been doing everyday….take an average and let us know and we will add it to our total. We have now collectively completed 6,612.701 kilometres which works out at 50.31% Woohoo!!! We’ve reached the halfway mark!! Very well done everyone. Email me please with your kilometres and I’ll do another post about this challenge tomorrow. It would be fantastic to have more kilometres to add to the total before then! contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Thank you again to each of you. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Thank you for trusting us. Now we need to keep going to ensure that the school keeps growing. https://gofund.me/44a92444 to donate and make a big difference to the lives of the most vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.

Here are more photos of the school build and it won’t be long until we are showing photos of the students and teachers! Every donation of £500 or over will be able to name a classroom, every donation of £100 or over will be able to have their name on a wall. If you’d like to make a corporate donation or donate in memory of a loved one, then please do get in touch. Or why not give a Christmas Gift to your family of having a name written on the wall or a classroom named after them? Enjoy the photos, Sarah x

Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 12/10/22

As most of you will know by now….a secondary school is being built at The Foundation….Bright Futures Secondary School. Because of costs it is being built in four phases. Work is progressing well, and Phase 1 is nearly finished. We need your help to get the roof on and to get desks made and more textbooks for the students. Will you donate to provide a textbook? Will you help with the cost of desks? What can you do to help these vulnerable children? Education is their way out of poverty https://gofund.me/44a92444

We have been raising funds and awareness for the new school by going on a virtual journey….following one of the routes that the boxes we send travel between here and Malawi. That’s a total of 13,144km. We are asking people to donate kilometres to our total to help us complete the journey quicker. So you might be out walking the dog, walking to work or round the supermarket or going for a run….just email your total and we can add it on! Or are you a runner or a cyclist? We would love your kilometres too.

Email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to add to our total kilometres travelled. Let’s see if we can finish our journey before the container arrives! The latest total is 5943.493 kilometres! That’s 45.22% of the journey completed. Well done and thank you so much to everyone who has and is contributing to our kilometre challenge only 7,200.507 kilometres to go! Every little helps, so please do get in touch to add your kilometres to the total.

If you can, please donate to our fundraiser to give the gift of education to some of the most vulnerable young people in rural northern Malawi https://gofund.me/44a92444 We need your help to complete phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please help us help the children who will have a brighter future if they can go to secondary school. I hope you enjoy the photos of the school build. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Fundraising Calendars 2023

Sarah’s blog 6/10/22

I am so happy that the calendars are finally here! There are some lovely photos on each page and some information about the projects we are supporting. They will make great Christmas presents or just to treat yourself to a calendar for next year.

The calendars are A4 size and will be £10 each plus postage. All money raised will go towards the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School.

Please email me if you’d like one or more fundraising calendars. I can either post them to you or directly to the recipients if you’d prefer. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thank you for your support and helping us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Sarah x

Our fundraising calendar for 2023 – £10 plus p&p goes towards Bright Futures Secondary School

Let’s build a school!

Sarah’s blog 30/09/22

The third kiln has been fired and those bricks are cooling down and will be ready to be used next week. There are plenty of bricks available and the builders are working very hard. The foundations have been completed and the walls are going up. It’s a really exciting time and lots of people are amazed and delighted that there will be a secondary school in their village. They are also extremely thankful as it will mean their children or grandchildren will be able to go to this school. Bright Futures Secondary School. Enabling children to have a brighter and better future.

Unfortunately, secondary school has to be paid for in Malawi. So, unless you can afford to pay the fees or have a sponsor to pay the fees for you then your education stops at primary school level. Education is the way out of poverty for these young people. They are desperate to go to school. We need you. With your help we can give them the gift of education. https://gofund.me/44a92444

It will be cheaper to educate the young people at Bright Futures Secondary School as they can continue to live at home with their families/guardians. This saves on boarding fees, taxis to and from school each term and many other extras that have to be paid for at the nearest secondary schools. Living at home will also be better for them and their families. Many of the young people are living with elderly relatives who rely on them to help with chores like fetching water or firewood or help with childcare for younger children.

Three things I keep saying are:

  1. It’s always about teamwork so we cannot do what we do to support over 500 of the most vulnerable children without your help.
  2. We are so grateful for everyone who supports us whether financially or practically. Thank you again.
  3. Our charity is run by volunteers, so you know that there is no money deducted from your donations for admin or salary costs. It all goes towards the projects we support. Your donations make a huge difference.

We still need some more funds to complete the two classrooms and latrines that will be in the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School. We still need your help. Please will you donate £10 today? We need 400 people to each donate £10 to complete phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. Will you help us? Will you help the children? Will you be part of the team that gives the gift of education to hundreds of the most vulnerable children living in poverty in rural northern Malawi? Please donate £10 today. You CAN make a difference. You can help us continue Changing Lives Malawi.

You can either email me for the charity bank details contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or you can donate to our fundraiser: https://gofund.me/44a92444 Together we can build a school! Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

We need 400 people to each give £10 to finish the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please donate £10 https://gofund.me/44a92444
Gaps are left in the kiln for fires to be built. The kiln is covered in mud and fires are are lit and burn all night
People keep the fires buring all night. Then the kiln is left to cool down for over a week before the bricks can be used
The builders are working hard, and the walls are going up fast
It won’t be long until the walls are completed
It’s great to see Bright Futures Secondary School is actually a reality!
please donate today https://gofund.me/44a92444

Fundraising Calendar 2023

Sarah’s blog 12/9/22

We are excited to announce that we have finalised the layout for a new fundraising calendar for 2023. We should receive the calendar in approximately 10 days when it will be available to buy for £10 (plus p&p).

Here is a sneak preview of the calendar…these images are just photos of my laptop screen so aren’t very good quality but I was excited to share them with you. These will make great gifts for Christmas and can be easily posted, or would be good to purchase for your own house!

One of our trustees has generously paid for these calendars to be printed, so you know that when you purchase one all of the money will be going towards the building of Bright Futures Secondary School, providing secondary education for some of the most vulnerable young people in rural northern Malawi. Please email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com if you’d like to place an order and give the gift of education. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

The front cover of our 2023 fundraising calendar
The back cover of our 2023 fundraising calendar

Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 1/8/22

I just wanted to do an update on where we are with this exciting project that is going to give a brighter future to hundreds, if not thousands, of young people in rural northern Malawi, changing their lives for the better by giving them the gift of education.

Secondary schools in Malawi charge fees, so those who cannot afford the fees just do not go to secondary school. However, because there are not enough places at secondary schools in that area, even if the children have passed their primary school leavers exams and have the money to pay for secondary school, if they don’t get picked for a place then they don’t go. This is unfortunately what happened to eleven of our sponsored children this year. It’s heart-breaking for them and they have been resitting their last year of primary school with the hope of getting better grades and therefore getting a place next time.

The nearest secondary school is too far away for children to walk so they have to board which then puts the costs up and also keeps them away from their families who may rely on the young people to help with chores and looking after younger siblings.

Bright Futures Secondary School will be for orphans and vulnerable young people supported by the Foundation. Those who cannot pay fees will still be offered a place at the secondary school and those who can pay a bit will be asked to contribute what they can afford. Obviously, young people will have been required to pass their primary school leavers exams before continuing with their secondary education.

There has been lots of work going on in the background, collecting school uniforms, liaising with other charities who may help us etc. There are over 100 chairs going on the next container. They have also been busy in Malawi with making bricks and they are going to be firing all the bricks soon when they’ve stacked them to make the kilns. I have got good news and bad news so I think I’ll go with the good news first….as there are lots of good things going on.

Good things are happening

  1. One of the neighbours of The Foundation is gifting some land to ensure there is enough land to build the secondary school on. That is extremely generous.
  2. We had a grant from The Souter Charitable Trust for £3,250 for secondary school text books and are very grateful for their support.
  3. Recently we had a cheque for £4,000 from The Inverclyde Trust to help towards the secondary school. This was a lovely surprise and we are so thankful.
  4. I had a fundraiser in May to start off the brickmaking for the school. People were very kind and contributed over £1,000.
  5. We have a gofundme page open for donations towards building the school. If you would like to contribute a few £££ towards the school and to support those who are doing our kilometre challenge then here is the link; https://gofund.me/44a92444
  6. There have also been some donations straight into the bank account for which we are very thankful.

The not so good news

  1. The Malawian currency has been devalued and everything has also gone up in price. Maize is double what it previously was and also the building supplies have all gone up, some being double the price that they cost in the shower block build. All this makes it extremely difficult when we think we are working towards a target then the goalposts keep changing.
  2. We had a quote over the weekend for the first phase of the secondary school. It was, because of the reasons stated above, far more than any of us imagined.
  3. Levison and The Foundation do not have any funds of their own so are reliant on our charity for fundraising. They have started to bring small amounts of money in but because of rising costs and the huge number of children and young people they are supporting, it is like they are swimming against the tide. Self-sufficiency is obviously the end goal but it is difficult when prices are rising and children are hungry.
  4. We need more people to help with fundraising and telling others about our charity.

Bright Futures Secondary School

We are very excited and committed to changing the lives of so many children. They know that education is their way to a brighter future for them and their families. They want education and they want to work hard.

Unfortunately, due to the trauma and lack of nutrition that many have faced, not all children will be able to complete secondary school but we hope that there will be jobs available and opportunities within the Foundation or for further vocational training.

However, because of the Feeding Programme, and the preschool children being fed in nursery, they have a better start than the older children. As well as food, they have access to showers and clean clothes and are already looking at picture books. The Literacy Project is very exiting as we are hoping that the results of having reading materials readily available will be seen over the next few years. Year on year, exam results should start to improve in the schools that we are supplying with books.

We had hoped that we would be able to raise enough money for the first phase of the secondary school to open in October 2022. However, we have had to make the decision that we cannot achieve that this year. We have a year to work hard and ensure all the money needed is in place for the start of term in October 2023. Whilst we are disappointed that costs have risen and we don’t have as much money as needed at the moment, we think it is sensible to be able to spend the next year ensuring that finances are in place and that the school is built properly ensuring all children have Bright Futures.

Please, if you know of any grant giving charities who could help, or any businesses willing to give a donation in return for some publicity then please do let us know. This is a huge undertaking for a small charity like ours but we are determined to continue Changing Lives. Can you do a fundraiser for us in the community where you live? Can you hold a coffee morning or a bake sale? There’s loads of ways in which you could get involved and we would love you to join us. The children are relying on us so they all have brighter futures. Please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to suggest ways of helping, or to donate to the school. Any donation over £500 can name a classroom. Thank you for reading and supporting us, Sarah x

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