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

World Health Day – Projects & Photos

Sarah’s blog 7/4/22

This year’s World Health Day is highlighting people and planet. There is much to do, particularly by those of us in more developed countries to ensure the health of people in poorer countries.

The Foundation we are working with in rural northern Malawi is making great progress but there is a great deal more work to do. Here are some ways they are making a difference to the hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children;

  1. The Feeding Programme – all children and young people in the area where The Foundation is are suffering from malnutrition. Approximately 500 children are fed a substantial, nutritious meal once a week. This is their biggest meal of the week and some children can go for a couple of days without eating. As there are no big agencies feeding children in that area, some children walk up to 20km for this meal. We would like to be able to send more money to feed the children more often or to set up a porridge programme at their schools. Teachers have already noticed that this one meal per week is helping the children’s concentration and improving their grades.
  2. The Period Poverty Project – girls have been made to feel shame for a normal bodily function. They miss school for one week out of four and therefore fall behind the boys in their studies. We sent hand turn sewing machines, fabric and other sewing supplies and some of the older girls started making drawstring bags and sanitary towels. The bags contain; 3 pairs of pants (supplied by Smalls for All charity), 5 reusable sanitary towels, soap and a health information sheet. This is an ongoing project, that doesn’t cost too much money, that is making a difference to hundreds of girls. It would be wonderful if we had more money to be able to make and gift these bags to all girls who need them at local schools.
  3. Clean Drinking Water & Showers – This was a huge undertaking and one that is benefitting everyone. As we saw in photographs pregnant women were washing their clothes, themselves and drinking from dirty puddles prior to having clean water on tap. All the children who use The Foundation are able to have regular showers to keep clean and they have clean water to drink. They are taught about the importance of hygiene and handwashing.
  4. Facemasks – When the schools in Malawi were requiring children to wear facemasks because of the pandemic, the girls who have been sewing were able to make facemasks for everyone.
  5. Handwashing – some of the local schools do not have clean, running water so we sent money for Levison to buy buckets (with taps) and boxes of soap to gift to local schools so the children are able to wash their hands.
  6. Fruit Tree Saplings – We have been raising money for fruit tree saplings for future food for the children. Over 100 have been planted so far but we want to plant far more. This will provide the children with a more varied healthy diet and will provide jobs and future income too. Obviously, planting trees is good for the planet and will help with preventing soil erosion in the heavy rains.
  7. Eco Stoves – are being made for the villagers. These are an enclosed form of cooking, are safer than the usual open fires, retain more heat and use less wood which makes them better for people and planet.
  8. The Foundation is growing it’s own crops for the orphans and vulnerable children to eat. However these aren’t enough for the hundreds of children who need food and more maize has to be bought. They are also rearing chickens and goats.
  9. The Mother & Baby Project – we have had wonderful donations of knitted blankets and baby clothes. Levison took these to the local health centre. New mums are given some clothes for their new born babies and again, if they go back a few weeks later, they will be given some more clothes enabling the nurses to have an additional chance to chat to mums and see their babies and offer help and advice if needed.
  10. Hats, Gloves & Scarves – at certain times of the year it can get very cold at night and most of these children are sleeping on the ground inside their very basic homes. It can be cold walking to school in the mornings so the gifts of hats, gloves and scarves keeps them a bit warmer.

These are just some of the projects that are making a difference. I hope you can see how much work is being done and how committed we are to doing more. Children are generally happier as they know they are important and cared about. They are learning new skills, playing sports and reading books. We couldn’t help The Foundation without your help, so this is another chance to say ‘Thank You’ to our supporters. It’s always teamwork and we are grateful to you. I hope you enjoy these photos on World Health Day. Thanks for reading, Sarah x As always, you can email on contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Sponsored – Melise & Mwiza – update

This story is about the Mtambo family, living in rural northern Malawi. Not many of us can imagine just how tough life is for this family.

Sarah’s blog 4/4/22

This family has four children and a mum and a dad. That sounds a good way to start a story. Depending where in the world this family live they might have a big house and 2 cars and plenty of money in the bank or a smaller house with the children having to share bedrooms and only one car in their family. Life might be a bit more of a struggle for them but they still have enough to get by.

But this story is about the Mtambo family, living in rural northern Malawi. Not many of us can imagine just how tough life is for this family. Not many of us can imagine just how poor they are. Mum is trying to earn some money to feed her family and hold everything together. Dad is ill and unable to work or help her with housework or the care of the children. There are three girls and a boy. Mwiza, the boy is disabled. He is left to his own devices a lot of the time, sitting on a mat, as mum cannot spend all day with him as she is working and the girls are at school and nursery. Grandma sometimes comes to help.

The story of this family and the mother’s struggle touched people’s hearts and two kind people came forward to sponsor Mwiza and Melise. The other two girls, Thokozani and Eliness, still need to be matched with sponsors. Melise’s sponsor also wanted the mum to have some money to spend on food or what she needs so she pays an extra £5 for the mum which Levison gives her and for which she is very grateful.

Having two out of the four children sponsored has made a big difference to this family. They have two monthly food parcels which supplement what mum can earn, so it takes a bit of pressure from her knowing that her children and herself and her husband have something to eat. The four children have been given new clothes and blankets and Mwiza has received a mattress and lots of toys and books to stimulate him and build up his muscles as he reaches for them. A chair is on the next container for him too.

Mum has said to Levison that she is amazed at the difference in Mwiza since the family started to have regular food and he had books and toys to stimulate him. Also, Melise although just 5 has been given a place at primary school as she is very bright. Usually children start primary school in Malawi at age 6. The extra food is obviously helping her concentration and growth and also the books sent for Mwiza will be helping all three of his sisters too. Families like these do not have the luxury of books so children miss out on lots of literacy that our children have from a very young age. It is great that the books that have been donated and sent are having a positive impact already.

This family still need a lot of help and support but the difference so far is great to see. Having the ongoing support of The Foundation and the two sponsors is helping to change these children’s lives. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos and if anyone feels they would like to join the team around this family by sponsoring Thokozani or Eliness then please do contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thank you for reading and for all the support we receive helping us to continue Changing Lives Malawi, 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

New clothes, shoes & maize for a needy family

Sarah’s blog 2/3/22

We saw this family last week. The roof had almost totally blown off their mud house in the wind and rain. They were able to temporarily ‘borrow’ another house….the roof isn’t much better on this one but at least they have shelter.

The family had been invited to The Foundation to receive some gifts. Today they came. Here are the photos. They cried tears of joy and couldn’t believe the lovely things they had been given. Thanks to Moses and Angela now having sponsors, Levison was able to give the family a bag of maize.

They are all malnourished and extremely sad and upset by what has happened to them. They are exhausted due to lack of food. Levison has assured them that The Foundation will look after them. We will bring you more photos of them which will, hopefully, show the improvements in their health and wellbeing.

If you would like to sponsor a child to help change their life then please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

The family’s ‘new’ temporary home
The roof of the family’s mud house has almost totally been destroyed by the wind & rain

A Generous Donation

Sarah’s blog 23/2/22

It’s been another busy day at Changing Lives Malawi HQ (our house) and the Logistics Manager (my ever helpful husband, Stuart) has been kept extremely busy and I’ve been busy helping him.

At 8.30am this morning we had a delivery of 22 large boxes of school uniform. Most of it is new. Very sadly, a school closed and all of this is their excess uniform. I saw a post on a fb charity site so made contact. The lady that has collected and sent all this uniform was determined that it wasn’t all going to go to landfill.

We are only about a third of the way through repacking it in stronger boxes but here are some photos of the lovely clothes and bags that will be on their way to Malawi very soon. There will be lots of very smartly dressed children who will be delighted to have the gift of brand new clothes. We will, of course, post lots of photos when things eventually arrive at The Foundation. Many thanks for your generosity. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

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

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 Second Sunday in Advent

Sarah’s blog 5/12/21

The second Sunday in advent is traditionally about peace and waiting. I have had no choice this week. I wasn’t going to write this but I think it’s important and I would be very grateful if you would be patient with me whilst I write this.

I have been in a very large hospital since Tuesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon I had some of my right kidney removed using robotic assistance. If this operation had taken place at my usual hospital, they would have removed my whole kidney. So I am thankful for the opportunities I have had. Everyone has been so lovely and kind and I have felt precious and cared for.

I am very conscious of the differences between my opportunities here and the lack of health care opportunities in Malawi, something we need to try to work on next year.

I feel I am being ‘asked’ to write this and believe me I am double and triple checking things as I am on a lot of medication for pain relief and my concentration isn’t good. At least I’ve kept my eyes open! My care,post op, has not gone to plan. My oxygen levels have been extremely low and, I spent two days in high dependency. Yesterday was my first day since Tuesday with no additional oxygen…again the comparison isn’t lost on me that Malawi doesn’t have enough oxygen in hospitals.

So without you having to know all my aches and pains, I am here to wait and recover. To recover from the big operation I have had but also the stress of 2021 which has been huge.

Every day has been a worry about where money will come from to feed children, to sponsor them, to provide for them. I have been volunteering 7 days a week. I can’t continue at that rate. It’s not going to do me any good, therefore the charity any good, if I don’t start putting myself first. I don’t know what the new working hours will look like but, for now, I will wait with peace and listen. Of course, I couldn’t have worked so hard without my husband who is my biggest supporter.

All of this would have been hard enough but there have been people on social media trying to destroy our charity. People who have never met me. People who are happy to side with others without knowing facts or thinking about the consequences of their actions. I cannot apply for grants for our charity at the moment because the awful things that have been written. People might not like me or like what I say (and that’s ok) but every decision I make is to benefit those hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children to make lives better for them.

Of course, I should have been at home this last week sharing posts; getting children sponsored, selling paintings for Christmas or lovely cards; sharing the links for e-cards and e-gifts and generally working as hard as I can for every £1 to help make a difference in Northern Malawi. Hopefully, people do find the items via our website and please share posts if you can. Hoping I will be home in a few days although this week away, courtesy of the NHS, has been amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better care.

So instead of being busy selling, I’ll wait patiently for what’s going to happen next. It might be that you decide you want to help, it might be a magazine wants to write about our work… who knows? But I do know that 2022 is going to be a better year and we hope that you will continue to journey with us http://www.changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

My room with a view of the helipad

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Sarah’s blog 7/11/21

There are so many rights in this document but I’m just highlighting a few today with regards to the hundreds of children and young people supported by The William Stewart Foundation in rural Northern Malawi.

‘Children have the right to clean water to drink, healthy food, clothes and a safe environment to live in.’

‘Every child who has been placed somewhere away from home should have their situation checked regularly to see if everything is going well and if this is still the best place for the child to be.’

‘Every child has the right to an education. Primary education should be free. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible.’

‘Every child has the right to rest, relax, play and take part in cultural and creative activities.’

These are just a few of the statements I have picked out of the document. Things are obviously very different in Malawi than they are here but you can see that we are supporting Levison and his team to help the children holistically.

How can they learn if they are hungry and can’t concentrate? How can they go to school without clothes to wear? How will their self-esteem be if they are in rags compared to their friends? What about if they don’t have soap to wash themselves and their clothes?

The children are benefitting from all the work being done to support them at The Foundation. There are now showers, clean water to drink, they are fed at the weekend, new clothes and shoes gifted, there are crops in the fields, books to read, foster families found for children completely on their own and skills for life taught to the children. There is also a nursery for 50 pre-school children which meets (and feeds them) three times a week. Apprentices are learning skills whilst they work and other children are going to school.

So much good is happening but there is still so much to do that we need your help with. We are all part of the team around these orphans and other vulnerable children. So please help us if you can. We need CHILD SPONSORS and FUNDRAISERS, and loads of volunteers in between! Whatever your skills or finances, we would welcome your help. We have lots of sustainable gifts for Christmas too that we are hoping people will buy. Please get in touch. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

A few photos

Sarah’s blog 27/10/21

Hi, I’m sharing a few photos of sponsored children and the apprentices who received some clothes today. All the apprentices received work trousers and a t-shirt and some of the apprentices who are sponsored received care parcels. The apprentices who don’t have sponsors were given donated clothes by Levison.

There are some photos too from younger sponsored children who received care parcels. Each sponsored child now has their own page on our website. There have been lots of photos taken that we have to go back and look through but from now on, if there are photos taken of sponsored children like these, the photos will be posted to the child’s page. They can be accessed at any time and it will be easy to see the positive changes that having a sponsor has made. Please sign up to receive blogs and updates and share with anyone who might be interested in being a sponsor. Thanks, Sarah x

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