31 Days in May – Sarah’s challenge – Day 1

Sarah’s blog

Let’s build a desperately needed school so all children can have the gift of education. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

I am trying to raise awareness of how little the hundreds of children in Ibuluma, northern Malawi have to eat. All children supported by the Foundation are malnourished. They are fed a nutritious, substantial meal once a week at the Feeding Programme. This is their biggest meal of the week. Some days some of the children might not eat at all. I am eating rice (instead of maize flour) and vegetables each day in May to represent what the children eat. I’m very aware that I am privileged to have this every day instead of just once a week and, of course, this is my choice. The hundreds of children we are helping to support have no choice.

I am also cycling 10km a day on my exercise bike to represent how far the younger children walk each day to school and back (5km each way).

I need your help to keep encouraging me please. I also need you to help me raise enough money to build a school. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

This morning I woke up and the realisation hit me that today is the day I start this challenge. I know that a lot of it is about having the right mindset and I am looking at this as a challenge….not a diet or anything else weight loss related….just a challenge to raise awareness of how little the orphans and vulnerable children in Ibuluma have to eat.

I decided I would have a packet of microwave rice so that it was easy to know how much I was going to eat. I had about a third of it for breakfast with some cucumber, a tomato and 2 beetroot. That was ok, no problem. A couple of hours later I cycled 5km on my exercise bike but then started to feel quite light headed. I had a bowl of lettuce and a big glass of water which filled me up but it wasn’t long before I started feeling light headed again so I finished the rest of the packet of rice. At less than 400 calories per packet I think it was a bit silly thinking I could just have one packet per day. It’s strange how much I’m thinking about food….not food that I can’t have….but just thinking when I can have something else to eat.

I cannot imagine not having anything to eat all day until dinner time. Or even worse, going a whole day with nothing to eat at all. The children in Ibuluma look forward to The Feeding Programme each week, knowing they are going to get a substantial meal…..how must they feel when it’s really heavy rain and they can’t go? Huddled at home, under a leaking roof, with a sore tummy because it’s so empty. The disappointment of not getting to The Feeding Programme must be huge.

Another project we will eventually have to tackle is building bridges across the rivers. If it rains, it is too dangerous for children to cross the rivers as they are too deep and children might get swept away. So some children, if they live across the river, have to stay at home to be safe. We’ve so much to do to help this community back on their feet and to self-sufficiency….we can but do a bit at a time.

Thankfully, the teachers have noticed that children can concentrate better and their grades are improving just from one meal a week which supplements whatever small amounts they get at home. Things are better…but not ideal.

Another big glass of water and 5km on the exercise bike. That wasn’t too bad. Now how long until I can have some more food? For dinner I am going to have some rice (surprise, surprise) with onion, mushrooms and courgettes….and another big glass of water! If I get hungry later I will have a carrot and another big glass of water! I’ll let you know in tomorrow’s blog how this evening goes and if I am starting to get a bit grumpy…let’s hope not. I’m keeping focused on the children I want to help and the school I want to help build. I’d love it if you could support me please https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Chambo Primary where they sit on the ground. We need to build a secondary school for these children as there are currently not enough places so if children do not get picked then they don’t go to secondary school. Education should be available to all children.

All over the world

Sarah’s blog 20/4/22

One thing I like about our charity having a website is to see how many views there have been of the posts, which posts are most popular and all the countries in the world where people are accessing our website and reading my blogs.

Today, we have had visitors from the UK, USA, Ireland, Spain, Malawi and even as far as Israel! Yesterday, we had views from China, and two days ago we were viewed from Canada. Thanks so much for looking at our website. Hopefully, you’ll be able to share with your friends and family about how we are supporting so many vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.

Here is the link to my fundraiser from my earlier post. We are raising funds for a desperately needed school. Thanks for reading and your continued support, Sarah x

https://gofund.me/bd6578d7

‘I alone cannot change the world….’

Sarah’s blog 10/4/22

A quote from Mother Teresa ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples’

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has’ Margaret Mead.

I found blogging very difficult to start with. It’s not in my nature to put myself forward….I’m much more comfortable behind the scenes. However, although these blogs are written by me, they are all about bringing news and photos from The Foundation about the hundreds of vulnerable children we are trying to help. The blogs are about raising awareness, raising funds and trying to bring more supporters into our team.

In order to keep helping the community towards self-sufficiency, we do need to widen the net and increase our team. Self-sufficiency is the end goal and always has been but things have been so bad for this rural community it is going to take a while and a lot of support.

All children in this rural community are malnourished. Most do not eat properly every day. Some go for a couple of days without eating at all. The plan was to set up The Feeding Programme for approximately 200 orphans and vulnerable children who live in the villages surrounding The Foundation. However, there are no big agencies feeding children in that area. I have made contact with them numerous times but they are busy further south. Some children are walking up to 20km for their one substantial, nutritious meal each week. On average 500 children and young people are fed every weekend. Teachers are noticing a difference to these vulnerable children’s concentration and grades after The Feeding Programme being set up. If this is after one meal a week, imagine the difference to these children if they were able to eat nutritious food more often?

I can’t imagine not being able to feed my children. Especially during the pandemic when the schools were closed, my youngest son was looking in the fridge for food an hour after he’d had his breakfast. He wanted lunch at 10.30am….I think quite a few children were like this whilst at home and out of their routine. We had to say ‘no’ some of the time. We said ‘have some fruit’ ‘have a carrot or cucumber’ or ‘have a glass of water to fill yourself up until lunchtime’. We live in a totally different world to those living in dire poverty in Ibuluma and surrounding villages in rural Northern Malawi.

Lack of food will affect strength to carry out manual jobs like collecting and carrying wood, carrying maize, walking to school, it will make them tired and cold, it will mean stunted growth and malnutrition and the inability to concentrate. Imagine your children were crying with hunger and you’d nothing to give them. Imagine the hopelessness of sending your young children out to work instead of them attending school as you need the pathetically small amount of money they will bring in. One boy (now sponsored) helped a farmer with his cows for the equivalent of £1.50 per month. In this situation, children are missing a huge amount of school. Life is hard and it is certainly not fair.

Some girls are at risk of being married off too young as child brides, despite this being illegal. Their families don’t want this, the girls don’t want this but their families cannot afford to feed all their children. What a desperate situation to be in.

My youngest son needed some new t-shirts and a waterproof jacket as he has grown. We don’t have an endless pot of money but I was able to order the clothes he needed. Imagine your children have one set of clothes and they grow? These families cannot afford to buy new clothes. Children have been wearing rags.

Thanks to your help and support, The Foundation is able to feed these children once a week and you have donated clothes and shoes. You’ve also generously donated stationery and books to help with the children’s education. Then there are the 90 children who are sponsored who have a monthly food parcel and their secondary education paid for them by their generous sponsors. There are lots more children needing a helping hand and a sponsor.

So what I am trying to say is that, as a team, together we are Changing Lives (in) Malawi. However, we need more people to help more people. Here are some ways you could help;

  1. Fundraising – can you do a sponsored event for us like The Kiltwalk or something else? I will help with sharing posts on social media to get more sponsors.
  2. Fundraising – can you organise an event in your community? Whether a quiz, a table top sale or a coffee morning or a carwash? Or what else? All these type of events help spread awareness of our charity to a new audience.
  3. Fundraising – could you organise a raffle, whether online or at an event?
  4. Fundraising – are you part of a church or club that you could invite us to speak at and show photos?
  5. Sponsoring – could you sponsor a week of the feeding programme or raise £100 to sponsor one meal for 500 children?
  6. Sponsoring – could you sponsor a child or young person. It’s only £25 per month.
  7. Donate – could you make a one off or regular donation towards the feeding programme or support another one of the programmes?
  8. Sign up to receive the blogs to receive up to date information.
  9. Share our posts to reach a wider audience please and talk to family and friends about what we do.
  10. Are you doing your Duke of Edinburgh Award or another volunteering activity? Do you want to add some volunteering to your CV? What could you do to raise funds or awareness for the children in Malawi?
  11. Any other ideas you have – please get in touch. As the saying goes ‘every little helps’. We cannot do this on our own. The hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children need you.
  12. WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY? EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING. WE NEED YOU. THE HUNDREDS OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY NEED YOU. PLEASE HELP US CONTINUE CHANGING LIVES MALAWI.

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you, Sarah x

The Starfish Story

Sarah’s blog 9/4/22

I love the Starfish Story that I am going to share with you. Some of you will know it already.

Sometimes situations seem daunting and overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder how we can make a difference to the hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in Northern Malawi. But we are, bit by bit. Each of us helps, doing our little bit, as part of a team.

Five hundred malnourished children are receiving a nutritious, substantial meal once a week at the feeding programme. We wish we could afford to send more money to feed them more often or to set up a porridge programme at the schools. Unfortunately, at the moment, we can’t. We don’t yet have the finances for this. But the teachers have noticed that even this one meal is helping their concentrate and their grades.

Teenage girls are no longer missing school each month as they have been given reusable sanitary towels. This has given them dignity, inclusion and equality of education.

A nursery has been set up for 50 very vulnerable preschool children three times a week. They’ve been given clothes, blankets, flipflops and raincoats. They receive porridge at each session. This is making a big difference to these young children.

Ninety children have been matched with sponsors. They receive food, clothes, blankets, soap and education thanks to their generous sponsors.

These are only a few ways you have been helping us help the hundreds of very vulnerable children that The Foundation supports.

It’s teamwork as we couldn’t do it without you. If you haven’t yet taken on a sponsorship role or donated to the feeding programme… think about The Starfish Story I am sharing today. One person can make a difference. You can make a difference. If you sponsor one child, I sponsor another and so on, we CAN make a difference to ALL the vulnerable children. Please can you sponsor one of these vulnerable children today? It’s only £25 per month.

These children may not be starfish like in the story… but each one of them is a star. They are doing their best to survive. But they each need one of us to help them have more food and education. They each need one of us to help them be the best they can be. We need you to help us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Each child deserves a chance. Let’s each of us support one child and Change their Life. We can do this if each of us makes up part of a big team around these children. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thank you for reading and supporting. Please choose one of these stars to change their life today. Sarah x

Please make a difference to a child today

Each child deserves a chance

Sarah’s blog 6/4/22

These amazing children need a helping hand to reach their potential. To be the best they can be. Isn’t that what we all want for our children? Each of these children suffers from malnutrition. They need more food, clothes, education. Can you be a helping hand for one of these children? It’s only £25 p/m to sponsor a child. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com please look at each photo and help a child today. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Some of the most vulnerable children

These are the most vulnerable children and most in need of a sponsor. Can you be a helping hand to one of these children?

Sarah’s blog 5/4/22

I wanted to highlight some of the orphans and vulnerable children that Levison has taken photos of previously. He’s done this as they are some of the most vulnerable and most in need of a sponsor. It’s only £25 per month to sponsor a child and you can do that as an individual, a group or two friends. 85p per day will mean the world to these children.

I’ve highlighted each child with a coloured background because I think they deserve to be seen. They deserve to have the same chances our children have. They deserve to have food, clothes, education. They deserve to reach their potential. They deserve to have a helping hand. They deserve to know that someone cares.

Please…can you be a helping hand to one of these children? It might be one of the most important things you ever do. It might be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thank you for reading and I hope to hear from some of you and match you with a child. 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

Chisenga School Visit

18/2/22

Exam fees needed to be paid by today and Angela’s school fees too now that she has a sponsor.

Levison visited the school and was able to take some supplies to the young people that had arrived on the container recently. They’ve had underwear, toothbrushes & toothpaste and other toiletries, some clothes and calculators.

All the young people are doing well and were pleased to receive their gifts and they look very smart in their school uniforms.

Levison managed to take some individual photos too, which I will post tomorrow, before the torrential rain started again. I’ve made a note of who had photos taken and will ensure that anyone who didn’t will get their photo taken next time.

Many thanks again to all the sponsors for giving these young people opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the photos, Sarah x

The Gift of New Clothes

Sarah’s blog 15/2/22

The hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children in Malawi were wearing rags and very old clothes before The William Stewart Foundation was able to gift clothes to them. Their self-esteem has improved, as has their attendance at school, as they have nice clean clothes and they know that someone cares about them. Thank you to all who have donated school uniform. We’ve had even more schools involved this time. Can you spot any familiar sweatshirts? There is still some more uniform to give out another time so there will be more photos another time. The photos of individual children….only Chisomo is sponsored, so if you wanted to sponsor one of the others or an older child then please do get in touch. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com As always, thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

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.

The Third Sunday in Advent

Sarah’s blog 12/12/21

There’s been no rushing around for me shopping and meeting people this advent season. I am so grateful for the care and attention I received from all the NHS staff when I was in hospital recently, but it’s going to be a while before I’ll be back to normal…whatever normal is!

Advent season is about waiting and reflecting and the third Sunday is about love. Who do we love and care about? How do people know that we love and/or care about them? Hopefully, by our actions. Also by our kind words.

How do the hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children supported by The William Stewart Foundation know they are loved and cared about? by our actions. A new football means the world to them. A blanket for two children to share to help keep them warm at night. Reusable sanitary towels, pants and soap giving a teenage girl her dignity back and enabling her to attend school all month like her male peers. There are so many ways we can show these children that they are important and cared about.

So in this season of giving, we would be so grateful for an extra football, or a blanket, or soap for the children. Can you help feed them an extra meal or provide some fruit tree saplings. By your actions they will know they are loved and not forgotten. Thank you for reading and supporting us. You can donate through our website, or by contacting us contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or through the link below. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

https://www.dontsendmeacard.com/ecards/charities/changing-lives-malawi

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