Merchiston Castle School – Rugby Donation

Sarah’s blog 18/06/22

Last week, Stuart had been to Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh to collect donations of rugby balls and kit from Annan Rugby Club which Bruce Aitchison had collected for us. Bruce is House Master for Rogerson House at Merchiston Castle School and also founder of the social media site all about rugby

https://www.happinessiseggshaped.org

https://facebook.com@happinessiseggshaped.org

Bruce and some of his rugby friends have been very supportive of our charity and how we are trying to support some of the most vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi. So Stuart visited the school again yesterday and met up with Bruce to collect the balls and kit from Merchiston Castle School.

Rugby has only very recently been introduced to the Chitipa District in the far north of Malawi when Jack Mphande, Malawi International Rugby Player and Rugby Development Officer, ran two rugby coaching camps. He is going to visit again to start coaching in schools in that area. Jack was very impressed with how the young people he was working with picked up the sport so quickly and his enthusiasm for the game was picked up by the children. The rugby donations we have been given are going to make a big difference to these young people. They will also know that people they have never met care about them.

All of these children are either orphans or living in dire poverty. All are very vulnerable. Until quite recently they had no hope. For them to have a visit from a top coach like Jack Mphande was so special for them. Someone important visiting them, working with them, teaching new skills, spending time with them, chatting with them, encouraging them and calling them by name. That experience is priceless. These children are more confident and their self-esteem has improved and they enjoy playing team sports with their friends whilst they forget about the problems and difficulties in their lives. An holistic approach is being taken, it’s so much more than just feeding hungry, malnourished children.

My blog from earlier this week International Day of the African Child – some of the projects which are helping the most vulnerable children – Changing Lives Malawi highlights some of the ways the children’s lives are changing for the better and shares some great photos and videos. Each of these projects requires funding to enable us to keep helping this community towards their goal of self-sufficiency. If you would like to donate to help the children please email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com .

Children also benefit from being matched with a sponsor to help provide more food, a blanket, clothes, welfare checks and pay for secondary education. If you would like to sponsor a vulnerable child it’s only £25 per month and you can sponsor as an individual or share the cost with a friend or family. A business or club could sponsor a child too. Ninety of the most vulnerable children have been matched with sponsors but there are many more waiting for a helping hand. Can you sponsor a child today? Or donate to one of the projects? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com .

Thank you so much to Bruce and all at Rogerson House, Merchiston Castle School for your generosity. Here are some photos and videos of some of the children you will be supporting. These were taken on their first day so they did brilliantly! If you want to keep up to date with our latest news you can follow us on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/changinglivesmalawi/ We are also on twitter and instagram and you can sign up to follow my blogs so you don’t miss anything! Thanks so much again, Sarah x

Rugby Friends – Thank you for the amazing donations!

Sarah’s blog 30/5/22

A few months ago, the young people in Northern Malawi had never heard of rugby let alone played it. A charity and friend of ours, Community Sports Leaders Africa arranged for Jack Mphande, Malawian International Rugby Coach, to travel north to introduce rubgy in the Chitipa District.

Jack spent a few days with sports leaders teaching them about touch rugby. Levison picked Jack up and took him to The Foundation where Jack spent a couple of days with some of the young people. Jack introduced them to touch rugby, teaching some coaching skills and playing a few games. The time Jack spent at The Foundation, including food for all the children involved, was paid for by generous donations from three of our supporters. Again we thank them for facilitating this.

I don’t think we can comprehend what a visit like Jack’s has meant to the orphans and other vulnerable children. And also to Levison and his team. The hundreds of children supported by The Foundation had no hope. They had no help. Malnourished, and in rags, and having experienced the trauma of family members dying, life was unbearable.

Fast forward a few short years and they have new clothes, are being supported through various projects including The Feeding Programme. They are being nurtured. They know The Foundation is their safe place; a time to be with friends, a time to learn and a time to relax and forget about their troubles. For an important person like Jack Mphande, a Malawian rugby coach, to visit them was amazing. For him to take an interest in them. For him to learn their names. For him to spend time with them. For him to teach them new skills. For him to laugh with them and praise them. For the orphans and other vulnerable children that must mean so much. Self-confidence and self-esteem are growing all the time.

These children now have hope of a better future. They know that people care about them. They know they are important. There is still so much to do but so much has been accomplished already. I keep saying that we cannot do this alone, it’s always about teamwork. So to everyone who has already helped us and supported us to help the vulnerable children – thank you. If you are reading this and think you’d like to get involved, you will be very welcome contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Strathendrick RFC, our local club, have already made some donations of kit and rugby balls which came in very handy for Jack’s visit. Now we have generous donations from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh and Annan Rugby to collect from Edinburgh soon. We are so grateful to the network of people who have enabled these donations. They will make such a difference to ensuring that rugby in the Chitipa District of Malawi, in the far north, continues to grow and thrive. Many, many thanks to you all. These donations will be packed up to go on the next container which takes about three months to arrive. There will be photos of the donations once they arrive but, in the meantime, here are just a few of the photos and videos from the first Rugby Camp for you to enjoy.

If you’d like to get in touch to donate money to our school fundraiser, or to support the feeding programme, or sponsor a child or anything else then please contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

A few people to thank

Sarah’s blog 29/04/22

We are always very grateful for the kind and generous people who support us. Whether it’s donating pencils, or shoes, driving boxes to Dundee, sharing posts, helping with fundraisers or sponsoring children….we thank you as we couldn’t help the hundreds of vulnerable children in Northern Malawi without you.

I want to thank four lots of people today who have helped us recently;

  1. Aquamarine.media in Devon have been helping us with our website and using their expertise to help us reach more people. We are very grateful for their input. Thank you Alona and Geoff.
  2. Strathendrick FC 2003/2 sections had been running in Balfron for 12 years. Now that the players have all left school and are no longer playing, the leftover funds have been shared with some local charities and UNICEF. We were delighted to be one of these charities and the money donated will help us a great deal. Thank you very much.
  3. Another Strathendrick but this time Strathendrick RFC have supported us again with more rugby kit to send to the children who have just started playing. This time they have donated a big bag of rugby balls, a box of cones and some water bottles. Once again, your support is very much appreciated. Thank you.
  4. Dumbarton FC Walking Football Club have donated a big bag of training kit and waterproofs which will be very valuable to the children in Malawi. Thank you so much for donating this. It’s very kind of you.

People who help us

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

Container 8 arrived in Ekwendeni safely – Levison’s journey

Sarah’s blog 4/2/22

We collect clothes, shoes, stationery, fabric and other supplies to go to The William Stewart Foundation in the rural north of Malawi where approximately 800 orphans and other vulnerable young people are supported as well as the elderly in the village.

So boxes start of (mostly) in my house, with my ever patient husband Stuart being the expert in packing them. He (and some other lovely volunteers) drive the boxes to The Bananabox Trust Warehouse in Dundee to await the container. Lots of charities send donations via The Bananabox Trust, so they order a container whenever their warehouse is full of boxes and also donations of medical equipment to go to the local hospitals. They charge £15 per box to cover the cost of the container. It’s loaded on a lorry and starts it’s journey to Grangemouth.

After approximately 3 months, the ship docks in Biera, Mozambique and heads north to Malawi to Ekwendeni, near Mzuzu. The lorry brings the container to The Mission Hospital at Ekwendeni and everyone who is expecting boxes is notified a couple of days before that it’s on it’s way. For some people this is a very short journey but for others they come a long way.

On Wednesday late afternoon, Levison and two helpers set out in the truck to Karonga. They arrived late and managed to sleep for a few hours and set out very early yesterday morning to get to Ekwendeni on time for the container being opened. Unfortunately, Levison’s phone had very low charge by then so most of the photos here are shared from friends of The Bananabox Trust on Facebook.

Because of the backlog and delay because of covid restrictions we sent more boxes than usual, plus 10 for Community Sports Leaders Africa in Chitipa. We also sent 20 adult chairs, 15 children’s chairs and 8 tables…. Levison is extremely excited about finally having tables for the children to work on, set the sewing machines on, food preparation etc….so many things that we take for granted. So we thought Levison was going to have to do a double journey as there was going to be too many things for the truck to take safely. However, he found a truck owner going back to Karonga who agreed to take the tables and chairs for Levison to collect from there.

Last night they got back to Ibuluma well after midnight and stored the boxes safely. This morning they set off again to Chitipa to see Wachisa, the football coach who was at The Foundation recently, to take his 10 boxes of sports kit from Community Sports Leaders Africa. Then onwards to Karonga to collect the tables, chairs and a few other boxes. The rain has been heavy so it’s been a long, hard journey on the smaller dirt roads but they’ve done a great job getting everything back safely.

More photos to follow in the coming days and weeks of boxes being opened and distributed. Many thanks to every single person who has donated, packed, delivered boxes and the lovely people at the Bananabox Trust too who document every box and load the container. We are all volunteers so it’s amazing teamwork! And to the helpers who unload the container too and ensure that everyone gets their correct boxes. Thank you, we appreciate you.

If anyone would like to sponsor a box to go on the next container, it’s £15. We can write your name on the box! contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x (the photo of Levison in the truck is from the previous trip to Ekwendeni to collect boxes from container number 7)

Donations…..

Sarah’s blog 21/1/22

We have lovely supporters donating in lots of different ways. Some give money to help feed the children, others sponsor young people so they can attend secondary school. I have a donation box in my front garden that people will leave things in if I’m out, and people will knock on the door with bags of preloved clothes and shoes or books. Occasionally, someone will proudly bring a bag of bargains that they’ve managed to pick up in a sale. Some supporters collect pencils, pens and soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste whilst doing their shopping. We are grateful for monetary donations to help cover transport costs as we are charged £15 per box on the container. These are all ways you can help us help the hundreds of children we help to support in Malawi. A few of our kind supporters knit lovely blankets or hats to keep babies and children warm and others help take the boxes of donations to Dundee to await the container to Malawi.

Whatever you choose to do to help and support us, ‘Thank you’. We are grateful you are part of our team. There is still so much to do…so if you want to get involved we would be very glad to have you on our team….Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

A big donation of preloved sports clothes was recently collected
We love it when people add things to their shopping for us….the children always love receiving a new pencil or some soap….and with up to 800 children to support….that is a lot of pencils needed!
Someone very kindly left these preloved teenage boys school shoes and two maths sets in the donation box in our front garden
One of our supporters has been busy knitting again….beautiful blankets
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