The very long journey

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Sarah’s blog 13/12/22

I have saved writing this until I knew that Levison and his two helpers were back at The Foundation safely.

On Thursday afternoon, they left Ibuluma (in the very far north) to travel to Ekwendeni (near Mzuzu) where the Bananabox Trust container gets unloaded. The message was sent that the container was arriving on Friday morning, so off they set.

They travelled to Karonga firstly then onto Mzuzu where they were able to purchase a small amount of science equipment for Bright Futures Secondary School before being at Ekwendeni for the container being opened and unloaded. The roads, and the fact that it is now the rainy season, slows everything down and they have to travel slowly and carefully.

We had sent more aid on container number 10 as we were offered chairs for Bright Futures Secondary School so there was always going to have to be two journeys made; one with boxes and one with 8 tables and 130 chairs.

The plan was that the driver and assistant took the boxes back on Friday to Ibuluma whilst Levison stayed with the chairs and tables and that the truck would return for him on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to heavy rain, they didn’t make it as far as Ibuluma on Friday night because the roads were unsafe. A safe place was found for all the boxes in Chitipa. The truck then went back to Ekwendeni on Saturday. However, as they didn’t arrive until late, they had to stay overnight and set off with the chairs and tables on Sunday. Again, because of heavy rain, they got as far as Chitipa and slept in the truck and completed the journey to Ibuluma on Monday morning.

The teenagers from Bright Futures Secondary School helped to unload the chairs and tables and were amazed to see the lovely chairs. Levison and the driver then went back to Chitipa to collect the desks that the carpenter had made for one of the classrooms. They brought those back safely and intended to go back to collect all the boxes, however it started raining heavily again. They decided it was safer to have a good night’s sleep and to set off early this morning to collect the boxes. Plans had to change again. The roads weren’t safe to travel because of the rain until mid-morning. Finally, the boxes were collected, and they headed to fill up with diesel before heading back to Ibuluma. Another twist in the tale….no diesel. However, they were told it was on it’s way. So, more waiting.

We really don’t realise how difficult things can be when trying to make plans. The rural location of The Foundation, in the far north of Malawi certainly puts it at a disadvantage and also the community are at a disadvantage too. Fuel is expensive. There are no big agencies feeding children in schools in that area at all. They are very much forgotten. This is why the work that The Foundation does is so important. Children are hungry. Children need education. Children need clothes. Children need a helping hand. Hundreds and hundreds of vulnerable children who need our help to a brighter future and need you to help change their lives for the better.

After a long wait for diesel, they were finally able to fill up and travel slowly but safely back to the Foundation at 9.30pm. Good job done everyone and thank you to everyone who has been involved whether you’ve donated goods, money, packed boxes, driven boxes to Dundee, thanks to our friends at The Bananabox Trust for the work they do itemising everything and packing the container. Another successful mission completed to help some of the most vulnerable people in rural northern Malawi.

If you would like to support the projects we are helping, you can either email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or donate to https://gofund.me/44a92444 Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the photos and videos, Sarah x

Container 10 at Ekwendeni

Some of the chairs we sent
A lot of boxes on the truck!
Levison at Ekwendeni
The chairs arriving at The Foundation and some of the teens helping unload
8 tables and 130 chairs have arrived safely
There has been lots of heavy rain
Teenagers helping to unload all the chairs
The new desks that the carpenter has made
Arriving safely with all the boxes
helping to bring all the boxes in safely
A job well done!

The Container Ship – Alana

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Sarah’s blog 4/10/22

Yesterday, The Alana, the container ship carrying The Bananabox Trust container with our boxes, has now arrived at Antwerp, Belgium after leaving Scotland from Grangmouth Port. We were following its journey earlier and took these screenshots at lunchtime today.

So, the race is on….can we collect 13,444 kilometres, which is the distance the boxes travel from here to The Foundation, before the container arrives in Malawi at the end of November/start of December? We are now 40.58% of the journey covered which is 5,334.133 kilometres! Well done everyone!! Now we need to try to get the other 59% of kilometres collected….can we do it before the container arrives?

We need you to donate your kilometres….just from your usual walks, runs or cycles…. just email me to tell me how many kilometres and I’ll add it to the total. If you want to send a photo too then that’s great but not necessary if you want to remain anonymous. The more people who take part then the quicker we will get to our total….so please do email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

The whole reason for collecting kilometres is to raise funds for and awareness of the new school we are helping to build…. Bright Futures Secondary School. The most vulnerable young people who are supported by The Foundation will be able to attend secondary school free of charge. We want all children to have the gift of education. It is their way out of poverty. If you can spare £10 we would be so grateful. We just need 400 people to each donate £10 then we can get the roof on the school! You can donate here https://gofund.me/44a92444 I’ll post more photos from the school build during the next couple of days. They builders are working really hard, and progress is being made every day!

Thank you for reading and supporting and please do get in touch to donate your kilometres. Thanks, Sarah x

The Alana is the container ship on which the Bananabox Trust container has been loaded
First stop Antwerp, Belgium

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 30

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Sarah’s blog 30/5/22

It’s been a busy day today. I started out by doing a blog about rugby and the great donations we’ve got from Annan Rugby and Merchiston Castle School. I also had a conversation with Jack Mphande, Malawian rugby coach, as he was impressed with these donations. He is planning another trip north to continue the rugby coaching that he’s already started.

Rice and mushrooms for breakfast….it was nice but I am getting rather fed up with my limited diet.

Stuart, my husband (the logistics manager aka box packer and mover) and myself spent a couple of hours at our storage container packing up boxes of donations. These will be taken to The Bananabox Trust warehouse in Dundee next week to await the next container to Malawi. We have only recently been lucky to have this storage facility, paid for by a generous monthly donation. Previously, all of these were kept in our house which was looking more like a warehouse every day! So we are very grateful to have this extra storage facility.

I had a glass of water when I got home then managed 20km on my exercise bike. It took over half an hour but it wasn’t too bad as I’m reading a good book on my tablet at the same time. My knees are sore now though.

More rice and vegetables and a tub of cherry tomatoes filled me up and I’m going to have roasted vegetables for dinner. I am so pleased to have made it to this stage of my challenge. Only one more day to go. I need your help to support me to get to the end of my challenge and to give the gift of education to the children whom The Foundation supports. All children deserve an education. All children deserve to go to school no matter where they are in the world or whatever their circumstances. Please help me to give these children the gift of education. Let’s build a school! https://gofundme/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading and supporting me, Sarah x

Lots of boxes packed today with clothes, shoes, school uniform and books. It costs £15 to send each box on Bananabox Container to Malawi so we are very grateful when people give donations to go towards the cost of sending the items they’ve given us.
The first lot of boxes just need labelling then will be ready to head to Dundee next week
CLM storage container where donations now go and boxes get packed

People who help us

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Sarah’s blog 21/03/22

There are so many volunteers behind the scenes that help us and other charities who are supporting people in Malawi. The charity that I’d like to thank in this post is The Bananabox Trust in Dundee and all the people who volunteer their time and energy. Thank you.

It all starts with a donation. Then another and another. It might be a pair of shoes, some clothes or stationery or some books. The donations are packed into boxes and labelled and put on our inventory. When there is a car load, one of our volunteers drives the boxes to Dundee to the Bananabox Trust warehouse. There their volunteers process and label the boxes and all the other donations that people send. There are dentist chairs from the charity Smileawi, hospital equipment, knitting for babies, sports equipment, tables and chairs, and walking sticks to name just a few things!

Most of our boxes have a truck printed on the side…so you’ll be able to see them in the photos. Once the warehouse is almost full, and everyone has paid their £15 per box to cover the cost of the container, The Bananabox Trust organises a container and then volunteers pack all the boxes and other donations onto the container. It’s a very skilled job fitting everything in correctly!

A container was packed at the weekend and has left Dundee today for the docks at Grangemouth. From there it is going to Antwerp. From there it continues it’s long journey to Mozambique and up through Malawi. Once it has cleared customs, it is released to travel to Ekwendeni near Mzuzu. This journey should take about 3 months.

People who are expecting donations all travel to The Mission Hospital at Ekwendeni to collect their boxes and parcels. It’s approximately a 5 hour trip for Levison to collect the boxes from Ekwendeni, but this has been made easier now he has a truck rather than having to hire a truck and driver. There are always a good team of people helping to unload the container and distribute the boxes. Then it’s a 5 hour trip back north to the Foundation.

There is great excitement from the children when they see the boxes coming but it’s quite a challenge to organise and unpack them so it’s done a few at a time. We try to organise things as much as possible here to group them together in age groups for example but sometimes things will be across different boxes depending when they’ve been donated.

I hope you enjoy the photos and learning a bit more about the journey of a box from here to Malawi. Thanks to all who help and make this possible. It costs £15 to transport one box on the container so if you’d like to sponsor a box then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

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On the road again…..

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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

Container 8 arrived in Ekwendeni safely – Levison’s journey

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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)

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Boxes and boxes

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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.
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