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

Ten ways you can help us

Sarah’s blog 14/04/22

Children – There are hundreds of children, like Rodrick and his sister Lucia, who are suffering from malnutrition. They are hungry. They cannot concentrate properly as their bodies are lacking nutrients. Some have very stunted growth. Rodrick and Lucia have been given new clothes and attend the weekly feeding programme were , along with 500 other vulnerable children, they are given a substantial and nutritious meal. They are all still hungry and malnourished as they don’t eat every day. No big agencies are feeding children that far north in Malawi, so it is down to us to send money to feed these malnourished children.

Education – is also the key to these children having a better future. Unfortunately, there are not enough school places. We need to raise money to build a school so these children can have the education they deserve. Education should be available to everyone. The villagers want to be self-sufficient. They want to be able to provide for their families. They want their children to go to school and have the opportunities that they didn’t. The children work hard and are desperate to go to school.

Lack of school places – Currently, there are not enough school places available. Eleven sponsored children who passed their primary school leavers exams did not get picked for a place at secondary school and are resitting their last year at primary school. Will they get picked this year? So worrying for them and heart-breaking.

Help us please – There are great things happening at The Foundation and lives are changing for the better. However, there are so many children and so much to do that we cannot do what needs to be done without adding to our supporters and team.

  1. We need fundraisers – we need people to organise small or larger events where you live, for your friends or community, on our behalf for the children.
  2. We want active people to take part in sponsored events for our charity – is that something you can do? Walking, running, swimming, trampolining, a sponsored silence? Can you do this with your friends?
  3. We need people to help us at events we organise eg looking after a stall, selling raffle tickets, making tea & coffee.
  4. We need more sponsors to be matched with children like Rodrick and Lucia so they have a monthly food parcel at their home, clothes, a blanket, school supplies etc. We have 90 children & young people matched with sponsors so far but there are many more in desperate need. Can you help? It’s only £25 p/m.
  5. Can you make a monthly donation to the feeding programme? Even a regular donation of £5 or £10 per month will make a big difference if several people sign up for this.
  6. Can you make a donation from your company? We can give you publicity.
  7. We need people to collect books so we can send them to schools.
  8. We also need people to collect stationery, shoes, new underwear etc for all age groups to adult, and collect funds to cover the cost of transportation.
  9. Will you invite us to talk at your club, church or school and show photos of the work taking place in Malawi?
  10. Will you tell your friends, family, colleagues etc about our charity and like and share our posts?

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details or to volunteer. It’s about teamwork and we all have a part to play in Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Rodrick and his sister Lucia are suffering from malnutrition

‘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

Changing Lives Malawi for less than £1 a day

Sarah’s blog 13/03/22

There are almost 90 vulnerable children and young people who have already been matched with kind sponsors who are changing their lives. It’s only £25 per month to sponsor a child and give them the security of food and education. There are no wages or admin fees with our charity as we are run by volunteers. You can sponsor a child as an individual, a family, two friends sharing the cost, or a business or club. Each of these children is malnourished and has experienced loss and trauma. We need you. The children need you. We always say it’s teamwork and we need to be the team around these children to give them the opportunities they deserve. The food they need. The education they should have. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to sponsor a child. Thanks for reading and for your support, Sarah x

These children are waiting to be matched with a sponsor…. which child can you help today?

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Sarah’s blog 17/2/22

We should be kind every day but are we sometimes too busy to actually stop and think about others?

As a charity, working closely with The William Stewart Foundation in rural Northern Malawi, every day we think about the vulnerable people there and how we can help improve their lives and help them towards self-sufficiency. Money (or lack of it) is usually the biggest issue with all the wonderful plans and wishlists.

Given my background, I am usually thinking about feeding children, accessing education, clothing them and generally nurturing them. The Foundation is doing a wonderful job of feeding 500 children every week (a substantial and nutritious meal) and having over 80 children and young people with sponsors giving them access to education and a monthly food parcel.

One of our other trustees has brilliant ideas….well most of them are brilliant ideas…he is used to being told that some of his ideas aren’t so good.

I think what I am trying to say is that there is a huge amount of enthusiasm and passion to see the vulnerable children and adults in Ibuluma succeed. For their lives to change for the better. For them to have more chances. For them to become self-sufficient. For malnutrition to be firmly in the past. For literacy and numeracy to improve, for people to have jobs and be very, very proud of what they have achieved through hard work and huge struggles.

As I said, lack of money is always the issue. Everything costs money. Apart from kindness. Kindness costs nothing. On our website there is a new document (you will see the link in red on the top right of every page) about our feeding programme. If you can afford to help us with the feeding programme committing £5 or £10 per month to provide more food for the children then please get in touch as that could be your Act of Kindness today. Or could you sponsor a child for £25 per month?

Or if you cannot afford to donate money, your Act of Kindness for these orphans and vulnerable children could be to like and share our posts to reach more people and hopefully future sponsors. Liking and sharing posts costs nothing but would be extremely kind. It also gives us a boost when we see people liking and sharing posts so what will your Act of Kindness be today? Please help us continue helping the orphans and other vulnerable young people by showing your kindness and support today? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading and for being kind, Sarah x

‘If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one’ (Mother Teresa)

Sarah’s blog 26/1/22

It’s very true….another quote that I like says ‘Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.’

There are approximately 500 children that are fed once a week. These children are some of the poorest on the planet and all suffer from malnutrition…some worse than others. We would love for these children to have more food. The end goal is that the villagers will be self-sufficient and there will no longer be a need for a feeding programme. Until that time we must help. We cannot do it alone.

We need to grow our team. If more and more people would please donate just £5 per month then we can help feed the children more than once a week. Ideally, I would love all the children to have a mug of porridge before school in the morning. It costs £100 to feed 500 each one nutritious meal. It’s not much per child but soon adds up when there are 500 children. Imagine if we could get 100 donating £5 per month….the children could be fed another 5 meals extra per month. What a difference that would make. But think about it….we are still only talking about 2 meals a week. Can you imagine only having one or two substantial, nutritious meals a week? Or if you couldn’t feed your children every day…. it’s heart breaking. They can’t help where they were born or the situation they were born into. But each of us can help one of them.

How can they concentrate with no food in their tummies? How can they concentrate when they are malnourished? These orphans and other vulnerable children are in survival mode…things like learning cannot happen properly until a child’s basic needs are met. It’s every child’s right to be safe, warm, have enough to eat and clean water to drink. I like the visual way the theorist Maslow shows children’s needs in his hierarchy of needs. Each layer cannot happen for a child if the previous one is not met.

So please join our team of people committing to help these children. £5 is all we ask as a monthly commitment (unless of course you would like to donate more). To most of us £5 is just a meal deal or a couple of drinks or some snacks. £5 to each of these children will help change their lives. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com It’s rainy season at the moment. People are struggling, the price of maize has gone up. Half of the Foundation’s crop of newly planted maize was washed away and they had to replant. Heart breaking. Levison told me today it’s a real struggle to feed everyone with prices rising. Thank you for reading and please consider joining our feeding team, Sarah x

The first Sunday in Advent

Sarah’s blog 28/11/21

As we approach Christmas, today is the first Sunday of Advent. I’m sure, whether you are a Christian, of a different faith or none, most children and adults enjoy the celebrations at this time of year. Advent calendars filled with chocolate, decorations, sparkling lights, parties, concerts and presents and also the lovely food are some of the special things we can enjoy as well as being with people we love. Whilst there have been some restrictions recently, they are nothing compared to what people living in extreme poverty are facing every day of the year, wherever they are in the world.

The first Sunday in Advent is traditionally of HOPE like a light shining in the darkness. That is what The Foundation is for the hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children that it supports. Hope of better things to come. Hope of food, of full tummies. Hope of clean water. Hope of education. Hope of jobs. Hope of health. Hope of better housing. Hope of fun and friends. Hope of a childhood without trauma. Hope that they will no longer be forgotten. Hope of sponsorship. Hope of clothes & shoes. ALL children deserve these things.

We are making great progress but with so many children there is never enough money. It costs £100 to feed 500 children once a week. This is their most nutritious, substantial meal of the week….some children do not eat every day and most suffer from malnutrition. We need to reach more people to help us continue to improve the dire situation that these children face. Can you share our posts or tell your friends about our charity?

There are many ways you can help us support the children and continue to send money to feed them. Donations of money are extremely helpful as are purchasing our e-cards and e-gifts as meaningful Christmas gifts with all the money we receive going to Malawi. The link is here https://www.dontsendmeacard.com/ecards/charities/changing-lives-malawi

Please help us to bring hope to hundreds of the most vulnerable children. If we don’t support them…..they have nobody. Together we CAN make a difference. Together we can change lives in Malawi. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . I am working tomorrow then I am taking the rest of the week off as I have a hospital appointment. I won’t be away for too long though as the children really do need us to help them. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

The Foundation, now with electricity, is a shining light of hope in the darkness

“Actions speak louder than words”

Sarah’s blog 24/11/21

I’ve been reviewing and editing some documents today for Levison in which he was mentioning some of the projects and it’s made me think. It’s also made me thankful. Because of my involvement in this little charity, I have met some wonderful people. I’ve also met many more brilliant people ‘virtually’. There are so many people doing their bit to help others and making the world a better place.

Whether it’s some of the ladies in Malawi that volunteer to help at The Foundation to cook the food for hundreds of children, someone taking an orphan into their home and helping them through the trauma of losing a loved one or volunteer sports coaches or Levison working every waking minute to help those in his village so they don’t go through what he did. So many people in Malawi care and want to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. All are part of a bigger team and show by their actions their care for others.

Here, we have more caring people, also part of that team. People contacting us to donate pre-loved clothes and shoes, knitting beautiful baby clothes or blankets. People bringing books that their children have finished reading to help the literacy project or sponsoring a young person to go to school. There are people giving time and talents and money. We have volunteers packing boxes and driving them to Dundee to the container. All are showing by their actions that they care.

Then there are the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet who are also volunteering their time with other charities and organisations; The Bananabox Trust who organise and pack the container is just one of the charities who are part of our team. There are people and organisations who collect sports kit and have made donations, people who have helped with fundraising, and many, many more lovely people who I would never have met if it hadn’t been for Changing Lives Malawi.

So thank you all for your support and care. Your actions speak louder than words and the orphans and other vulnerable children supported by The Foundation know that people care about them. If you would like to help us then please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting us. Sarah x

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