World Education Day

On World Education Day, we thank our supporters who are helping us provide education to some of the most vulnerable orphans in rural northern Malawi.

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Sarah’s blog 24/1/23

What does education look like where you live? How many years do children go to school? Is it provided to all children, at no cost?

Where you live, what happens to children when they leave school? Do most go to college or university or an apprenticeship? Or they might go straight into employment? All of these opportunities happen after children have completed primary AND SECONDARY education. What would happen if they didn’t have these opportunities?

Not all children will pass all of their exams. As long as they’ve tried their best and worked hard, that’s all anyone can ask. They will still have been learning whilst at school.

Imagine that there are schools… but not for your children. In Malawi, primary school is free. However, if you cannot afford food then your children will have to miss school so they can earn a pittance to try to help buy food for the family.

Imagine your child walking all day to the nearest maize mill with a heavy bundle of maize balanced on their head. It’s not even your maize… they are walking 15km or 20km all day with their heavy burden to be paid a pittance for carrying someone else’s maize to the mill. No clean water or food to drink or eat all day, at risk of being attacked along the way. They have to miss school. How does that feel?

Laston, one of the boys we have matched with a sponsor, worked for a farmer, helping to look after his cows, for approximately £1.50 per month. There was no school for Laston – school was for other children – until we found a sponsor to support him.

In Chambo primary school, where the majority of orphans and other vulnerable children attend, whom the Foundation supports, they have minimal resources. No desks and chairs, apart from primary 8. All other children sit on the floor in their classrooms. They have hardly any books. They have no clean water supply and no latrines. We gifted 17 boxes of books to Chambo primary school to support literacy and help children become confident readers.

Children have to sit exams when leaving primary school. If you don’t pass then you don’t go to secondary school. There are not enough places in secondary school, so if you don’t get picked for a place then you don’t go. If you do pass your exams and are lucky enough to be picked for a place but you can’t afford to pay the fees… it’s heartbreaking. That is your formal education finished at the end of primary school.

That’s why Bright Futures Secondary School was desperately needed. To ensure all the orphans and vulnerable children, supported by The Foundation, had the chance of a secondary education without having to pay. Education is everything to these children. They know it is their escape from the dire poverty they live in.

Bright Futures Secondary School is being built in phases, as it’s obviously a big and costly project. Phase 1 has been successfully completed – staff accommodation, staff latrine and classrooms 1 and 2 and passed with flying colours when the inspectors came from the Education Department.

Now we need to continue our fundraising commitment to build classrooms 3 and 4 to ensure these vulnerable students have the opportunities the deserve. That they have choices and chances. That they have a brighter future.

All students at Bright Futures Secondary School are provided with a uniform, a school bag, other clothes. They receive a free school lunch. They have access to clean water and showers. Girls are given reusable sanitary towels (made at The Foundation) so they don’t have to miss one week of school each month. They are allowed to borrow books to take home from the library at The Foundation. Their dreams are coming true. They are working hard. With your help we are changing lives in Malawi.

On World Education Day we are saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped us to support the students this far. Without your help, these students would not have been able to attend secondary school and have a free lunch each day. The school lunch is vital as it’s probably the only meal for many of them.

We need your help to build the next phase of the school. Two classrooms and more latrines will cost £25,000. Will you be part of the team supporting these vulnerable students to succeed and achieve? Will you be part of the team allowing them to have more choices and chances? Will you be part of the team helping them to help themselves out of poverty? https://gofund.me/ece5753a

If, on World Education Day, you would like to show your commitment to some of the most vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi, please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or donate to our fundraiser here

We are passionate about helping these children to help themselves out of poverty and giving them a better start. The nursery has 75 preschool children (age 4-6). As well as clothes and blankets, each child has just been gifted a book to take home. We want children to learn that books are a wonderful resource that can be used each day for information and escapism. Who knows if any of these children will become authors in the future and write books for other children?

As you might imagine, running costs, as well as capital costs for these projects need to be found. The children need more people fighting their corner and supporting their education. Here are ways you can get involved;

1. Can you donate to our fundraiser to build classrooms 3 & 4? https://gofund.me/ece5753a

2. Can you commit to £5 or £10 monthly to help pay for food for the nursery or secondary school?

3. Will you organise a fundraiser for us? Can you involve your friends? Can your family help? What could your children & their friends do?

4. Would you like us to visit your club or school and show photos & talk about the projects we are supporting in Malawi?

5. Would you like to be matched with a vulnerable child to support their education and wellbeing? It’s only £25 p/m and you can split this cost with a friend.

6. If you are selling preloved clothes or toys… could you do it on behalf of our charity?

7. Can your business sponsor an event? Or donate towards a building? Or pay for the feeding programme for a week? We would, of course give you publicity. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

You can be sure that all money goes to the projects we support. Our charity is run by committed volunteers. So we have no salaries or admin costs. Thank you for reading and supporting us to help continue Changing Lives Malawi, Sarah x

Gifts for the nursery children – Changing Lives Malawi

Rugby, School & Sponsorship – Changing Lives Malawi

children at the nursery have all been gifted a book to support their literacy
Students at Bright Futures Secondary School in the rugby kit donated by Merchiston Castle School
Some of the girls with their new school bags
Students showing off the new rugby kit and balls supplied by Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh
Students in a practical science class
we sent school uniform for the students at Bright Futures Secondary School
Exam time
Practical agricultural lesson – preparing the ground in the new polytunnel for growing crops.
The library has a good selection of books and computers
Laston, one of the sponsored teenagers. The photo on the left shows Laston in the only clothes he had. His shoes had holes in the toes so he could continue to wear them as they were too small. He missed a lot of school and worked for a farmer, looking after his cows, for approximately £1.50 per month. Laston is now doing really well as he’s been matched with a sponsor and is working hard at school.
Stuart, one of our trustees, collecting rugby balls and kit from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh

The school has been built!

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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

Help us please to complete the school!

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Sarah’s blog 14/10/22

The building of phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School is making great progress. We are so thankful for all the donations we have received so far. We couldn’t do what we do without you. It’s always about teamwork and our team of volunteers and team of supporters are amazing. Thank you!

However, as usual, we are aiming big even though we are a small charity. As we are volunteers, you can be sure all of your donation goes to the projects we support. We are still needing your help to get windows, build desks and purchase more textbooks. These young people are some of the most vulnerable in rural northern Malawi. Together, we can give them the gift of education. https://gofund.me/44a92444

On the container that will arrive in December are 130 chairs, school bags, school uniform and blankets. Already there, and waiting for phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School to be completed, are pocket dictionaries, calculators, windup torches and filled pencil cases. These young people are desperate to learn. They are desperate to have a better life. They are desperate for a brighter future. They are desperate for education. They need our help. Together we CAN help them and give them the gift of education. https://gofund.me/44a92444

The reason we are fundraising to build Bright Futures Secondary School is that there are not enough places in the current secondary schools. Even if you have a sponsor to pay your fees and you have passed your primary school leaving exams, if you are not offered a place at secondary school then you don’t get to go. That is heartbreaking. They have to repeat their last year of primary school, hoping for a better grade and hoping to be picked for a place at secondary school. This happened to eleven of our sponsored children last year. We will do everything we can to ensure that all children have access to the education they need and deserve.

On our kilometre challenge we are trying to complete 13,144km which is the total that the boxes we send travel from here to The Foundation. We are asking people to send us the number of kilometres you run, walk or cycle so we can add them to our total. We are almost at the halfway mark now! Please email me to donate your kilometres contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

In addition to this fundraiser, we have lovely cards and paintings for sale by one of our talented trustees, Christine Cresswell. We also have calendars for sale at £10 each plus p&p. All of the proceeds of these fantastic paintings, cards and calendars will go towards phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School and will make great Christmas gifts.

Christine Cresswell Artist – new paintings – fundraising – Changing Lives Malawi

Fundraising Calendars 2023 – Changing Lives Malawi

I hope you enjoy the photos of how the school is progressing. Please help us if you can. If you are unable to help at this time, then please share our posts. Thank you for your support, Sarah x

One of the lovely cards we have for sale. Taken from an original painting by Christine Cresswell, one of our trustees. Pack of 8 cards for £5 (blank inside for your own message)

Our 2023 fundraising calendar £10 each plus p&p

Work is progressing well on phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School

Bright Futures Secondary School – progress report

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Sarah’s blog 06/10/22

The builders are continuing to work hard on the walls of the two classrooms in phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. It’s exciting to see it coming together! Some of the most vulnerable young people in rural northern Malawi will benefit from your help https://gofund.me/44a92444 Please help us help them. Every child deserves an education. These children want to learn.

Yesterday, more supplies were bought in Chitipa. However, there was no diesel again until this morning. They had to wait overnight at the petrol station before a delivery of diesel arrived this morning. Nothing is straightforward but, despite setbacks, the team are succeeding… the most vulnerable young people, supported by The Foundation, will be able to go to secondary school within their village at no cost to them. Education is the way out of poverty and young people are desperate to have the opportunity of education.

We still need some more donations to complete this first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please help us help these orphans and other vulnerable young people to have the gift of education https://gofund.me/44a92444 If 400 people each give £10 then Bright Futures Secondary School will be educating and nurturing young people to provide them with a brighter future. Please donate £10 today to help us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

The wood has been bought to build the frame for the roof of Bright Futures Secondary School.

Building Bright Futures Secondary School

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Sarah’s blog 25/09/22

It’s very exciting to see the work has started on the first phase of the new secondary school – Bright Futures Secondary School. This will be for the most vulnerable young people who would otherwise not go to secondary school.

Unfortunately, only primary education is free in Malawi. The nearest secondary schools are too far to travel daily so the students supported by The Foundation, and who have sponsors to pay their fees, have to board. These schools do not have enough places which is why Bright Futures Secondary School is much needed.

Everything we do is on a shoestring. We are a small charity, and we are achieving. However, there is still so much more to do. We are volunteers so you can be sure that all money that you give to our charity goes on projects. We do need your help to ensure that we can complete phase 1 of the school. We are building two classrooms and then more latrines. The staff accommodation block is almost finished but we do need more funding to complete the classrooms. Please help us? Please give the gift of education. https://gofund.me/44a92444 Together we can make a difference. Together we can continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thank you for reading and supporting us. Sarah x

The Kilns are being built

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Sarah’s blog 07/08/22

There is always something happening in Ibuluma and here. Being part of a small charity means that there is always something to do! I wanted to show you some photos of progress that is being made with the brick making.

I’ve shared some photos of the bricks being made and now they are being stacked to make the kilns and fire them. These are amazing structures, it takes skill to stack them properly…the gaps underneath are for the fires which will be lit and kept alight all night.

Some money has been saved by bricks being made rather than bought. However the biggest costs of building classrooms are the cement and the roof panels. We hope that you will be able to spare a few £££ to help provide the gift of education with this much needed secondary school. Here is the link https://gofund.me/44a92444 to our fundraiser. Please help if you can. If we all donate a few £££ then we will reach our target much quicker.

Also I’ll share the link to Traci’s story from yesterday of her 30km walk for our school fundraiser. It’s Traci’s birthday today…so happy birthday Traci and I hope you are sitting with your feet up today! Traci’s kilometre challenge – update – Changing Lives Malawi . Thanks for reading and supporting and I hope you enjoy these photos of the progress being made, Sarah x

Stacking the bricks to make a kiln takes skill and hard work.
One of the kilns that has been built reading for firing the bricks.
Some of the people involved in making bricks…they’ve worked so hard.
Thousands of bricks have been made and left to dry in the sun. This has provided employment for local people instead of buying bricks from elsewhere.

Bright Futures Secondary School

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Sarah’s blog 26/6/22

Exciting times! Levison and his trustees have named the new school Bright Futures Secondary School! An excellent name as this new school will make hundreds, if not thousands, of children’s lives brighter and give them hope for the future.

Levison says that having a name for the school before even the first brick has been laid is important and the way things are done ahead of meetings with officials.

I’m very excited by this project but also slightly anxious as it’s my job, and our charity’s job, to raise the funds for this project as The Foundation has no funds of it’s own for such projects. Obviously, in time they will be self-sufficient and building a school is certainly providing employment opportunities for clearing ground and making bricks… and that’s just to start with.

Clearing the ground

Thank you to everyone who has given generously already but if you can donate a few ££££ please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details or my fundraiser is still open https://GoFund.me/ca9c1629 thanks so much for helping us continue Changing Lives Malawi and providing Brighter Futures through Brighter Futures Secondary School, Sarah x

Clearing the ground
Breaking up the ground to make bricks
Bricks being made and left to dry
Bricks are being made at two sites..at the Foundation and at a site about 1km away
Adding lots of water to the soil

Juliet Ng’ambi asking for a school

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Sarah’s blog 13/4/22

A few young people were at The Foundation yesterday. Levison took videos of Laston (yesterday’s post) and Juliet Ng’ambi appealing for a school in their village. Juliet is also in p8 and is worried that, even if she passes her exams, she won’t be picked for a place in secondary school in January as there aren’t enough places.

I’m confident that by growing our team of supporters we can make this a reality and help hundreds of vulnerable children out of poverty through education.

We need your help. I need your help please. Can you organise a coffee morning where you live? Or an event with your friends? Do your teenagers need volunteering opportunities and could help us with a sponsored event? Are you experienced at applying for grants? Can we come and speak at your club or church? I would love to hear your ideas of how you can help the children have a school in their village…so they can all go to school and be the best they can be.

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to chat about how you can help or for bank details to make a donation. Or you can donate via this website or by texting SCHOOL to 70560 . I know we can do this together to continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

When the first few picture books arrived at The Foundation

Juliet Ng’ambi asks for a secondary school in her village so there are enough places for all children

Let’s build a school!

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Sarah’s blog 12/4/22

If only it were that easy! It’s going to take a lot of fundraising and a lot of money and some very generous people to make this work. We can do this, together!

There are just not enough secondary school places. Even though children are passing primary leavers exams and have sponsors to pay their fees, if they don’t get picked then there’s nothing they can do! We have 11 such children who have sponsors kindly paying their fees but they have had to resit p8 as they didn’t get a place in secondary school. It’s heart-breaking for them when they are working hard and know that education is a way out of the dire poverty they are living in. We have bought text books and Levison is tutoring them each week to try to ensure they get better passes and are picked for a place at secondary school in January. Life is hard and not fair for these young people. We can help them if you join us.

As you will see from some of the young people’s writing, nearly all of them want to see a secondary school in their village. All the young people who had passed their primary school leavers exams would be given a place. As a lot of the young people are orphans, living with a single parent or grandparent, the fact that they could stay at home whilst attending secondary school would be a bonus as they would still be able to help with some chores at home. Let’s make their wishes come true.

This is us getting started but we need help. We need you. What are your skills? Are you good at applying for grants? Do you have the energy and enthusiasm for fundraising? Do you know anyone famous? Or do you have a large following on social media? Please get in touch and we can do this together. We can build a school. We can change lives. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x fundraisingschool.docx

Building an extension…for the chooks

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Sarah’s blog 28/03/22

Back in October, we had a fundraiser in Strathblane, with an exhibition and sale of the beautiful paintings by one of our trustees, Christine Cresswell. She has very generously donated all proceeds from the sale of her paintings, prints and cards to our charity. This is ongoing, not just from that day, so we are very grateful for her talents being used to help us. There is a link to her facebook page on this website and I will also do a blog highlighting her paintings soon.

The money from the fundraiser was agreed to fund the building of an extension to the existing hen house. The rainy season was obviously not the best time to start this project so the builders have been on site this last week now the rains are becoming less frequent. A few of the young people have volunteered to help with ferrying bricks for the builders and you’ll see Maria Chizumira in one of the photos. Maria was on holiday from first year at Chisenga Secondary School.

We look forward to being able to bring more photos of the finished hen house and also photos of the new residents….maybe we might even have some Easter chicks? Thanks for reading, Sarah x

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