Kilometre Challenge Update

Sarah’s blog 4/8/22

Jackie has written an update below of how the challenge is going.

Douglas & Lynda have been walking some of the Fife Coastal path and clocked up 67.5km. They also sent some beautiful photos. Thank you to both of them for their continued support.

Stuart and I managed some r&r in the East Neuk of Fife too and have added our km although nowhere near as impressive. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

“Hello All – Well the BALFRON TO BRIGHT FUTURES SECONDARY SCHOOL CHALLENGE has just passed its first month

The various people involved (a small team of 7 so far) have clocked up 1,817.805km. In addition the kids in Malawi have run 320km to join in.

This is a total of 2,137.805km an amazing 16.26% of the way to walk/cycle/run/hop/skip/jump the 13,144km that represents the journey from Balfron to Ibuluma in Northern Malawi.

So far over £8k has been raised (a lot off line so the GoFundMe looks a bit light!) but as prices are rising fast in Malawi just like here the sooner material can be bought the better so we really need to raise lots more money sooner rather than later.

Can you help Build the Bright Futures Secondary School?
Ways to help:-

1 – Make a donation and encourage me (and the team) to keep clocking up the km’s – https://gofund.me/dd3a1be3
2 – Join in and “donate” your km’s to the total to get us to Malawi sooner – https://forms.gle/twQYfx7LRRrtvdhx9
3 – Follow the charity on FB to see how we are getting on with our challenge – https://www.facebook.com/changinglivesmalawi
4 – Share this post with anyone and everyone who might be interested in our project so we can raise awareness of the charity and its amazing projects (it does soooo much more – https://changinglivesmalawi.com/about/)

Thank you so much for reading and your support 🙂

PS – over 70,000 bricks are soon being fired to build the walls 🙂 – Jackie”

Beautiful views from the East Neuk of Fife courtesy of Douglas & Lynda

Photos I took from St Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife – one of our favourite places.

‘On the road again…’

Sarah’s blog 2/8/22

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

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

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

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

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

Traci is clocking up kilometres!

Sarah’s blog 29/07/22

Traci is doing a brilliant job! She’s so committed to this challenge to help build Bright Futures Secondary School in rural Northern Malawi.

You can join in too… even if you are walking round the supermarket your kms will count. We would love children to join in and this could help with getting them out of the house for some fresh air! You can help us give the gift of education to vulnerable children who wouldn’t otherwise get to secondary school. Education is their way out of poverty.

You can read all about our challenge here with the details you need to join in and log your km. https://forms.gle/twQYfx7LRRrtvdhx9

This is what Traci said last night. “Here’s my latest photos of knocking off more Kilometers for Changing Lives Malawi. I’ve now reached 351.21km in the first 28 days. I’m upping my pledge and now aiming to reach 700km by the end of August. https://gofund.me/dd3a1be3

Well done Traci! The more people who join in then the quicker the challenge will be finished!

To sponsor Traci as she’s doing a fantastic job please give a few £££ at https://gofund.me/dd3a1be3

Thanks for reading and supporting us to build Bright Futures Secondary School, Sarah x

Some of Traci’s latest walks… she’s now walked over 350km! Brilliant Traci! Well done!

Getting ready for school

Sarah’s blog 26/7/22

As you know, we are trying our best to raise money to build the first block of a secondary school. Bright Futures Secondary School will be a community school for the orphans and other vulnerable young people to attend.

Education should be available for everyone. There are currently not enough places at local secondary schools. If you don’t get picked for a place, even if you have passed your primary leavers exams and can afford the school fees.

This is what happened to eleven of our sponsored young people this year. They are resitting their last year of primary school, hoping for better grades, hoping to be picked for a place.

As the local secondary school is a distance away the young people, who are sponsored and do get a place at school, have to board at school. This adds to costs and also means they aren’t available to help their families with chores.

A secondary school in the village would make such a difference to so many people. Education is their way out of dire poverty – their way to a better future for themselves and their families.

Bricks are being made…about 40,000 so far, and kilns are going to be built soon to fire the bricks.

There are people working hard in Malawi and here to try our best to help these vulnerable children. As well as education, a school will help prevent teenage pregnancies and girls being married off too soon. Already, The Foundation has proved that if the young people are kept busy and given opportunities then there will be far less teenage pregnancies. The young people’s self-esteem has increased as they learn new skills, play team sports with their peers and read in the library. They know people care about them. They have hope for a better future. We need to continue supporting the projects that support them. This is absolutely vital to protect these vulnerable young people.

Here, we are trying to raise funds and awareness. It’s really hard as we know that some people have less available cash. We need to reach a wider group of people and if we all give a little, that will add up to a lot!

Also, we are trying to source supplies to provide for the young people when the school is built. We need to plan ahead as the container takes approximately 3 months for its journey.

There are over 100 chairs at The Bananabox Trust warehouse that we are sending for the first phase of the school. Someone donated boxes of new laptop bags. We are sending 80 of these for the young people to use as school bags. Pencil cases and pens are in boxes too as well as some secondary school uniform.

Stuart, my husband, delivered some boxes and 72 rugby balls to Dundee today and took a photo of all the chairs to show Levison.

I also received a photo from one of our supporters today who put a shout out on her village Facebook page asking for preloved secondary school uniform. People have been very generous as she’s collected a great amount which will kit out some of the pupils who will attend Bright Futures Secondary School.

There’s still so much to do and so much money to raise but we WILL do this. The children are relying on us. So if you can spare a few £££ we would be so grateful. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Donate here: https://GoFund.me/44a92444 or get in touch contact_us@changibglivesmalawi.com

The donations that Stuart took to Dundee today including 72 rugby balls from Annan rugby club and Merchiston Castle School. You can see that the warehouse is getting full.
The chairs that we are sending for Bright Futures Secondary School
We are grateful for this huge pile of secondary school uniform donations that we will send for the pupils when they start school

Jackie’s very wet adventure

Sarah’s blog 25/7/22

Jackie is one of the people who has embraced our kilometre challenge and has been doing lots of cycling. She is also keeping a note of the totals for me.

Jackie and family have been helping to move a boat through the locks on the Crinan Canal. There are 15 locks along the canal to move the boats from one level to the next. Jackie had her bike with her and was running and cycling between the locks adding to her total kilometres.

If you want more info on the canal here is a link: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/crinan/crinancanal/index.html

It is a beautiful place and I had said to Jackie last week that there would be lots of tourists watching them open and close the locks as the boat travelled through the different sections. There were no tourists! The rain could not have been any heavier and poor Jackie (and everyone else) got absolutely soaked. She is very brave for allowing me to post a photo of her looking a little bit wet and fed up! Well done Jackie and thank you for adding lots of kilometres to our total.

So I’m going to post a couple of photos to show you how beautiful the scenery is then Jackie’s photos and the route she was running/cycling back and forward!

The new totals are U.K. 1,250.285 kilometres, Malawi 320km = 1,570.285 kilometres which is 11.95% of our total.

To take part in our challenge to travel one of the routes the boxes of aid take from here, Balfron, to northern Malawi… over 13,000km click here https://forms.gle/twQYfx7LRRrtvdhx9 and to donate to help us build a much needed school … Bright Futures Secondary School https://GoFund.me/44a92444

If you think Jackie has done a brilliant job this weekend then please donate a few £££. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Internet photo – One of the locks on the canal on a sunny day
Another photo from the internet… this is what Jackie would have been doing but in the pouring rain!
Jackie’s bike and the boat they were helping to move through the 15 locks in the torrential rain
The Crinan Canal
Jackie covered quite a few kilometres running and cycling back and forward
A very wet and tired Jackie! Well done Jackie and thank you for sharing your kilometres with us!

Our website visitors

Sarah’s blog 24/7/22

Just a short post from me today as I’ve got an issue with my laptop that will hopefully be sorted by tomorrow. It’s times like this that I realise that technology isn’t my forte… but thank goodness for friends who can help.

Douglas & Lynda delivered another load of boxes to Dundee yesterday. Stuart & I spent a couple of hours yesterday packing boxes. The Bananabox Trust shed in Dundee will soon be full again and then they will book another container. It won’t be long until the current one arrives at it’s destination .

Hopefully, I’ll have an update on the kilometre challenge for you tomorrow with some photos too.

So I want to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ again to everyone who supports us. We really do appreciate you.

I love this photo from The Foundation Christmas Party where younger children were all given a rain jacket, a pencil and a lolly. Smiles like this are so good to see.

Our website is having visitors from all over the world which is brilliant! This week some of the countries from which people have viewed our website are; Thailand, Spain, U.K., USA, UAE, Canada, Israel, China, Netherlands, Malawi, Ireland, Peru, Zimbabwe, Libya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Antigua and France.

You can keep up to date with the most recent news by signing up to receive my blog. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

The children need food

Sarah’s blog 20/7/22

Running a Foundation is a huge responsibility and the rural location of The Foundation adds to the pressure that Levison is under.

There are no big agencies feeding children in schools in the far north of Malawi. The responsibility has fallen to The Foundation to feed 500+ children once a week. Children are walking from up to 20km away to have that one substantial meal each week.

This is all we can afford at the moment. There are so many calls on finances as we try our best to support a community back to self-sufficiency.

The Foundation teaches life skills to the children and young people. Growing crops is part of the skills the children learn. Unfortunately the crop of maize was affected by the flooding earlier this year and part of the crop was washed away. This year’s crop will only feed the children for two months.

The price of buying maize fluctuates throughout the year depending on availability and time of year.

The Malawian Kwacha was devalued a few months ago and all prices have gone up. However, maize is more than double the price it was this time last year.

Thank you to the few people who have given £5 per month towards the feeding programme as we have been grateful for this to top up the money we send each month to feed the children.

We know that we are asking for a lot of help but the more people who know about our charity and The Foundation, the more we can spread the help we need across more supporters. So I urge you to please share our posts and also tell your friends about us and the help we need.

All of us in the U.K. are volunteers and no money is spent on admin costs as we donate our time, petrol for transporting boxes to Dundee etc. So you can be sure if you donate money for feeding children, that’s where it will go.

Please, please can you donate £5 per month towards our feeding programme? I need 20 people to commit to £5 per month to enable the children to still be fed a substantial meal each week at The Foundation.

Please, if you can, donate £5 p/m by emailing contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details. The children have come to rely on that one substantial meal each week…we can’t let them down.

Please help us continue helping the children by donating £5 per month for food. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to help feed the 500+ vulnerable children today. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Some of the children having their one nutritious meal of the week.

Today we are talking pants!

Sarah’s blog 10/07/22

Thanks to a small Scottish charity, Smalls for All, we are talking pants today! This is the second time they have generously donated pants for all the children supported by The Foundation.

Levison gave me a list of how many boys and girls there were in each age group and I contacted Smalls for All. Stuart and I collected them from Livingston when they had made up the huge order.

Levison gives out clothes and gifts a bit at a time rather than all at once, so today was the day chosen to give out the pants which had been sorted into age groups. Each child was given 3 pairs of pants and you can see from their faces that they are delighted. I can’t really imagine us being quite so delighted with 3 pairs of pants…but then we take so much for granted and are really fortunate. These pants bring dignity and help self-esteem. The children know that people care about them enough to send all those pairs of pants. So a big THANK YOU to https://www.smallsforall.org and all the people who donate pants to them for making hundreds of children happy today. Thanks, Sarah x

On Father’s Day….

Sarah’s blog 19/6/22

https://changinglivesmalawi.com/2022/06/17/a-family-in-need-of-help/

It’s Father’s Day in the U.K. today. A day for celebration for some, a day for reflection for others and a bittersweet day for others as they remember the fathers who are no longer here.

I’m not going to do a long post today as I’ve been writing quite a lot recently but I just wanted to ask you to spare a thought for the orphans and fatherless children in Malawi who need our help and support.

If anyone of you could help a child, we would be so grateful. £25 a month will give a monthly food parcel, a blanket, clothes, welfare checks and education. That’s only 85p per day. If you cannot afford £25, could you and a friend sponsor a child between you? £12.50 a month each for two people to sponsor a child will change their life. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

I’ll share Mercy’s appeal again in the hope generous sponsors come forward for her and her brother. Thank you, Sarah x

Mercy has had to drop out of school due to lack of funds. She needs someone to sponsor her so she can complete her last two years of school.

Mercy’s mum is on her own with two children. Her son is disabled. Please could someone sponsor him to make their lives just a little bit easier?

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 24, 25 and 26

Sarah’s blog 26/5/22

7am. So glad I am nearly at the end of my challenge. It’s tough because I am thinking about the food that I will be able to have next week and it’s making it harder to keep going with all the vegetables and rice!

As I had done 20km on my bike that I mentioned in my last blog, I decided just to do 10km on my bike for the next couple of days as my legs were sore.

I’ve been eating rice with mixed vegetables, lots of roasted vegetables, soup and a waldorf salad. Trying to drink enough water and finding that quite hard to fit in an extra couple of glasses. As I was out a lot yesterday, I did have a shop bought pack of melon and mango which tasted amazingly sweet and delicious.

6.30pm Just cycled another 20km and really pleased with myself! Never thought I’d be able to do that at the start of this challenge… I was struggling to get past 5km. So I will definitely try for at least two more 20km before I finish.

I decided to do this challenge for the following reasons;

  1. To raise money to build a much needed school as there are not enough places in the local secondary school. If you don’t get picked for a place in secondary school then you don’t go. Education should be available to all. It is the children’s way out of poverty to build themselves a better future.
  2. To raise awareness of the Feeding Programme and what the children have to eat. I am eating rice (instead of maize flour) and vegetables. I am fortunate that I have a choice. I am fortunate that I am eating more than once a day. I am fortunate that I am only doing this challenge for 31 days in May. The Feeding Programme feeds 500 children and young people once a week with a substantial and nutritious meal. As there are no big agencies feeding children in schools in that area, some children are walking from 20km away for this one meal a week. There will be some children who do not eat every day. Teachers have said that children are able to concentrate better and their grades have improved since The Feeding Programme was implemented. It’s not enough but better than it was. We would love to be able to send money to feed the children more often.
  3. I set out to cycle 10km a day on my exercise bike to represent how far the younger children are walking to and from school (approximately 5km each way). However, some days I have been able to cycle 15km and have even done one 20km. I will try to do another couple of 20km before my challenge ends.

If you think that all children deserve an education please donate to my fundraiser https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Please help me help the children.

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

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