31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 20 and 21

Sarah’s blog 21/5/22

This challenge is getting harder. My body is complaining about lack of vitamins/and or minerals. I’m not complaining, only documenting how I am feeling. It was my choice to do this challenge, to raise awareness of how little the most vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi have to eat. I have far more to eat than they do. I have the choice to end this challenge at any time. I know that my challenge finishes in 10 days time. They have no choices. They are hungry and malnourished.

I am not sleeping well. I wake in the middle of the night for the toilet then I am awake for ages. My skin is drier than previously, especially my hands. I’m feeling quite anxious and generally tired out. This morning I was feeling panicky. Not a good way to feel. However this was my choice to raise awareness and money for a desperately needed school. Only 10 days to go. I’d really appreciate your support please. I’m sure these feelings are because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I am thankful I was able to have eggs for breakfast today and had a snooze at lunchtime. I am definitely feeling better after having those eggs for breakfast. Imagine if I didn’t have that luxury? Only 10 days to go!

I gave myself a day off my bike yesterday as I was so tired but I have just completed 15km today so I am really pleased with that…I wonder if I can get to 20km on my last day? If you think I’m doing well on my challenge then please donate to help me help the children have the gift of education. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

If you think that education is every child’s right please donate to help us fund a new school. Education is a way out of dire poverty for the hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children we help support. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

There is £1,000 in the online fundraiser now and £280 in the charity bank account. Thank you so much to all who have donated. However, we need to keep going to raise much more! Please give if you can. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Preloved Books – The Gift of Literacy

Sarah’s blog 20/5/22

If children don’t have access to books…how can they learn to read? It’s a miracle that the orphans and other vulnerable children supported by The Foundation can read at all. They are all amazing and are desperate to learn.

In developed countries, books are available for babies at just a few months old. Care givers are encouraged to sit babies on their knees and look at books with them. Children learn from a very early age that a book means a story. Preschool children learn books contains bright pictures. They learn that books have pages that are turned one after the other. They then pretend to follow the words with their fingers, so even then they know that the words tell a story and give information.

Then there is all the environmental print that we have. Most children before they can read will be able to recognise the golden arches of a burger chain or the label from their favourite yogurt or snack or the sign at the local supermarket.

What if all of this was missing from children’s lives? So by the time they arrived at school they had not had all these experiences and practice. The children in Malawi don’t have the luxury either of scribbling and mark making on paper with different pens and pencils. So how are they expected to learn to hold a pencil and write properly too. They have been at such a disadvantage.

Whilst we can’t provide for everyone and give each child an endless stock of paper and pens….we are making a difference….we are changing lives. You are helping us in a variety of ways and we couldn’t do what we do without you.

  1. Seventeen boxes of children’s books have already been gifted to Chambo Primary School for the children to have access to a whole new world through reading stories. There are a variety of books going from preschool with lots of bright pictures and not many words to Harry Potter, encyclopedias, dictionaries and maps. Every person who has donated a book to us has given a child the gift of literacy.
  2. There are more books on their way for another school and we will keep going until all children in that area have been given the gift of literacy. As soon as Levison had delivered the 17 boxes of books to Chambo primary school, and I had put a post on social media about it, his phone started ringing from teachers at other schools asking for books too. Everyone is desperate to help the children have a better education.
  3. You have helped us supply books to Emma’s Rainbow Library at The Foundation. Book shelves were made along the length of a wall, using a donation we had been given. Now they have a good selection of books for all ages, including study books. More are on the way.
  4. The nursery, for 75 of the most vulnerable 4 – 6 year olds, has a basket of story books for younger children and there are more on the way. We are now making up care packages for children starting nursery, so we know that each child has received; a gym bag, 2 red t-shirts (nursery uniform), 2 pairs of pants, a blanket, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste and a story book with lots of bright pictures. Eventually, almost every home will have one or two books. Hopefully, the adults can look at the books with the nursery children.
  5. Eventually, we want to be able to fund a member of staff to support adult literacy classes.
  6. Today, my husband, Stuart, collected 5 bags for life and one big box from a local nursery. Arnprior Nursery had received a grant for new books and they no longer needed all these ones. What a brilliant way of recycling these preloved books. Instead of them being thrown out or sold for a few pence, the gift of literacy is being given to vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi. Thank you to the staff at Arnprior Nursery for this amazing donation that will help so many children.
  7. We are hoping to see literacy levels increase as time goes on. Already one little girl, Melise, who is 5 has been allowed to go to school a year early as she has been described as being very bright. Her brother, Mwiza, is disabled and has been given lots of picture books and toys to help stimulate him. Is she going to school a year early because she has been able to look at her brother’s books? I’m really keen to see how literacy levels start to rise.
  8. Together we are Changing Lives Malawi and we need you all to keep helping us. This is a relatively cheap way to change the children’s lives. The books have been donated. It’s £15 to send each box on the container. If anyone would like to sponsor this literacy project or pay for a box then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Just some of the books generously donated by Arnprior Nursery to our School Literacy Programme

Melise who is attending school a year early. Her brother, Mwiza, has disabilites and cannot attend school. He has been sent lots of books and toys. Melise has been able to look at her brother’s books so has this given her an advantage over her peers?

One of the boxes of books had been opened for the children. As you can see there are no desks or chairs and, until this donation, hardly any books.
Boxes of books at Chambo Primary School – The gift of reading – The School Literacy Project

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 8

Sarah’s blog 08/05/22

Its been a busy old day today. I’m really happy that I have completed my first week of the challenge. However, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been wanting to snack on food today. I’ve opened the fridge a few times and closed it again. However, at least I usually have a choice about what I can eat. I’ve not cheated so I’m pleased I haven’t given into temptation as we still have some Easter eggs here and ice cream in the freezer.

I was at a friend’s house this afternoon. She brought me a present while she had been out shopping. Rice cakes have never tasted so good lol. Not a great photo of me but hey ho….I enjoyed a few of my rice cakes! Thanks Alison. I’ve still got my cycle to do soon and then some vegetables to look forward to. If you would like to donate to my fundraiser to help build a much needed school then please click on the link https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading and supporting me, Sarah x

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 7

Sarah’s blog 7/5/22

5.30pm I’ve been a bit hungry today and bored by what I’m eating. I must admit I’ve opened the fridge a few times to look at what’s there, sighed, and closed the door again. But do you know what? The kids in Malawi don’t have a choice. They would be delighted to be eating what I’m eating. Even more so, they would be delighted that they were eating every single day.

So I can do this. I have done this! I’ve completed one whole week! 7 days of eating rice and veg to represent what the children have at the feeding programme (although I’m having rice not maize flour and I’m lucky enough to be eating every day). I’m cycling 10km every day on my exercise bike to represent the distance the younger children are walking to school and back each day. I’ve cycled 70km this week!! I’ve also lost 8lb in weight! https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

Do you know what? I’m pleased with myself. Pleased with my determination. Yes, I am doing this challenge for myself but I am doing it for the children. They desperately need a new school as there aren’t enough school places. If you don’t get picked for a place in secondary school then you don’t go. Life is very, very unfair. I need your help.

Today, I have been applying for a grant for school text books as there are nowhere near enough to go round. A full set of text books for secondary school year 1-4 costs £325. This set can obviously be used by 4 students at one time if they are in different year groups. £325 is a huge amount of money and I am asking for 10 sets. I do hope that I am successful with getting this grant. There is so much to do and so much more we want to do to help this community to self-sufficiency. The fact that things had got so dire and that there are hundreds needing help makes it more challenging. That is why we need you to help us. We can’t do this alone. It’s always about teamwork and we need to grow our team of supporters as then we can do more to help.

I need your support to raise funds to build a school. I have £840 in my fundraiser after the first week of my challenge. Can we get it to £1,000 by tonight? Please? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have enough for a classroom by the end of my challenge? https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 3

Sarah’s blog 3/5/22

12.30pm Who needs sleep anyway? Sore tummy and sore legs last night and, for some reason, wide awake! I’m not saying this to moan, I’m just writing down facts as a record of how this challenge is progressing. I haven’t been hungry at all this morning. I’ve just had a lovely salad for my lunch which is the first thing I’ve eaten today. I’m saving my rice for dinner! https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

The first day of the challenge was really hard as I was hungry all the time but yesterday and today have been ok as my body is obviously getting used to the change in what I’m eating and eating less than usual. Not having meat is a big change but I’ve not really missed it. I’m finding that I am thinking a lot more about the children in Malawi and trying to imagine the different difficult situations they find themselves in. Not enough to eat, nowhere near enough resources in the local schools, no medical care if they can’t afford it. Lots of chores to do to help their families. The heavy rains this year have affected the crops and maize will be more expensive to buy and not as readily available. Life is very hard for them but, bit by bit, we are changing their lives for the better. Always, the end goal is self-sufficiency.

8pm It’s been a busy day today so I didn’t get round to doing my 10km until 7pm. When I got to 6km I started to struggle so I made my lovely hubby come and talk to me until I’d finished…. so I made it over the finishing line! A bowl of rice and a few beans just now. I’m feeling a bit tired but hopefully that means I might sleep tonight. My challenge is to eat rice (instead of maize flour) and vegetables as a representation of what the children eat and cycle 10km to represent the distance the little kids walk to school and back. If you’d like to support me raise funds to build a desperately needed school then please donate to my fundraiser https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 thanks for reading and supporting me, Sarah x

31 Days in May – Sarah’s challenge to build a new school

30/4/22

As I said this morning, tomorrow and for all of May, I am challenging myself to cycle 10km per day on my exercise bike – which is the distance the primary school children walk each day. I will also be eating just rice (instead of maize flour) and vegetables each day in May to represent what they children have at the Feeding Programme – although this meal is just once a week for them and their biggest meal of the week. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

Already, I’ve had three great donations to my fundraiser, thank you very much to those three supporters. However, I need many many more donations to help the dream of education a reality for hundreds of vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.

This morning, Levison was tutoring all the p8 students who are supported by the Foundation. He is trying to help them get the best marks possible in their exams. We have provided text books for the library. However we could only afford one copy of each book. The tutoring sessions are having to be carried out as a group as there are no spare copies. We hope to add several more copies of each text book so they are available for all. Some of these young people who were being tutored this morning are repeating their last year of primary school. Even though they passed their leavers exams and have sponsors to pay their secondary school fees, they were not picked. They were not picked for a place at secondary school because there aren’t enough places.

We need a new school to provide the gift of education for these children. Education is the gift these children need to get themselves a better future. They know they need to work hard. They know education is everything. We need to help them help themselves. I will be sharing insights into the lives of the hundreds of vulnerable children we are supporting each day in May.

My challenge for today was to eat a few snacks that were in the house so I am not tempted during the next few days. Please be supportive as I’m sure the first few days will be tough as I go without any sugar….not that I have a lot of sugar but I do like the occasional ice lolly or ice cream! I hope I’m not too grumpy!!

My lovely sister invited us round for Sunday dinner tomorrow; roast chicken and apple pie! I thanked her but said I’d stay at home with my bowl of rice!! 🙂 At the moment, I’m feeling ok about the challenge. I think it will be a time of reflection and make me even more determined to do all I can for the hundreds of malnourished children in Ibuluma. See you tomorrow for the first day of the challenge! Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

Children at Chambo Primary school reading some of the donated books we sent

At Chambo Primary School, the children (apart from p8) all sit on the floor. Resources are scarce. Thanks to you, we sent 17 boxes of books to this school to help children practise reading and become more confident readers. We need to build a secondary school as there are not enough places at the nearest secondary school for all these children.

31 days in May challenge

Sarah’s blog 30/4/22

Tomorrow I start my challenge to help raise awareness of the hundreds of vulnerable children we support and how life is for them. So expect lots of stories from Ibuluma, rural Northern Malawi. I am also raising money to build them a school and I need your help.

There are not enough places in secondary schools and, if you don’t get picked (even though you’ve passed your exams) then you don’t go. That’s what happened to 11 of our sponsored young people this year. I had matched them with sponsors to pay their school fees, they worked hard and passed their primary school leavers exams and still didn’t get picked for secondary school! It’s heart breaking for them. Heart breaking and very unfair. How would you feel if that happened to your child? These 11 children are now repeating their last year of primary school in the hope that they get picked next year. But what if they don’t? There are not enough places at secondary school for all the children to get a proper education. What would you do if this had happened to your child and their friends?

If we build a school in the village then all children who pass their primary school leavers exams will be able to go to secondary school. Education, they know, is their way to a better future. It’s their way to a sustainable future where they will be able to support themselves and their families. ALL CHILDREN DESERVE AN EDUCATION. ALL CHILDREN DESERVE A CHANCE TO REACH THEIR POTENTIAL. THESE VULNERABLE CHILDREN NEED MY HELP AND YOUR HELP.

Each day in May, I will be eating the equivalent of what the children have at the feeding programme. I am very aware that they only get this once a week and it’s the most they eat all week. Instead of maize flour, I will be having one bowl of rice each day and vegetables/salad. I will also be cycling 10km a day on my exercise bike which represents what the younger children walk each day to school and back.

To a lot of people this might not seem like a big challenge. However, I have some health issues and this is a big deal for me. I’ll be blogging during the month about how I’m getting on and bringing stories from Ibuluma.

So here is how you can help:

  1. Please donate money
  2. Tell your friends and ask them to donate money too
  3. Share my posts and cheer me on….I’m sure I’ll need your encouragement
  4. Can you join me on this challenge or do a challenge of your own?
  5. Can you or your children do a sponsored event or challenge? Bake sales/sponsored walks/sponsored reading books each day of the summer holidays/sponsored trampolining etc
  6. Can you save all your loose change in a jar for us? If enough people do this then it will certainly add up.
  7. Any other ideas? Anyone you know that has a big following on social media etc who could mention us and a link to donate to my challenge?

Thanks in advance for your support. Here is the link to my fundraiser https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 or you can donate via this website or contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details. You can also text SCHOOL TO 70560 to donate.

I can’t do this on my own…..but we can do this together! Please help me help the children. Please help me continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading and your support, Sarah x

The Nursery

Sarah’s blog 23/04/22

As the rainy season hasn’t finished yet, there were less children at today’s nursery session. I always say that the nursery caters for 50 of the most vulnerable children. However, Levison has recently told me that there are now 75 children age between 4-6 coming to the nursery. None of these children are turned away as they are hungry and suffering from malnutrition.

As you can see, the children are in their red t-shirts that have been sent, a few are still wearing their stripy waterproofs that they were given at Christmas and one little girl, Flary, whose mum volunteers to cook for all the children, is wearing a Riverside Primary School Jumper.

Levison and I decided that when the children start nursery would be a good time to give out a care package so we know that everyone has received their gifts. As I am an Early Years Educator, I’ve got a special interest in making lives better for these children and helping them achieve their potential. We have put together the following for each child as they begin nursery; a gym bag with, two red t-shirts, two pairs of pants, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap, a blanket and a picture book. Now I know that there are 25 more children, I am collecting and putting together some more bags to send on the next container. We always need soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pens & pencils, children’s pants etc so if you find these cheaply while you are doing your shopping we would be very grateful if you’d donate some for the children.

We are also putting together pencil cases for each child leaving nursery and starting school, so if your child has asked for a new pencil case and their old one is still ok, could you donate it to send to the children please?

The nursery meets 3 times a week and the children play and are given something to eat. Periodically, Feed The Children Organisation bring some bags of porridge. The Foundation is grateful for this donation. These are only to be used for the nursery children. The porridge doesn’t last for many servings so the children are fed from money our charity sends and also from the crops grown at The Foundation when available.

This is one of the reasons that planting fruit tree saplings is so important, so children like these have more variety and vitamins in their diets and any extra fruit will be used as an income for The Foundation. Levison and team want a huge orchard with lots of different fruit trees. They want to keep bees too when the saplings start growing bigger. Obviously, planting hundreds of trees will be good for our planet as well as providing a sustainable future for the community. Fruit tree saplings are a way out of poverty and malnutrition for this village.

If you’d like to buy some fruit tree saplings they are £10 for 4. You can get in touch by email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or via the website form. Please also get in touch if you’d like to help support the nursery in any way. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

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

Juliet Ng’ambi asking for a school

Sarah’s blog 13/4/22

A few young people were at The Foundation yesterday. Levison took videos of Laston (yesterday’s post) and Juliet Ng’ambi appealing for a school in their village. Juliet is also in p8 and is worried that, even if she passes her exams, she won’t be picked for a place in secondary school in January as there aren’t enough places.

I’m confident that by growing our team of supporters we can make this a reality and help hundreds of vulnerable children out of poverty through education.

We need your help. I need your help please. Can you organise a coffee morning where you live? Or an event with your friends? Do your teenagers need volunteering opportunities and could help us with a sponsored event? Are you experienced at applying for grants? Can we come and speak at your club or church? I would love to hear your ideas of how you can help the children have a school in their village…so they can all go to school and be the best they can be.

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to chat about how you can help or for bank details to make a donation. Or you can donate via this website or by texting SCHOOL to 70560 . I know we can do this together to continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

When the first few picture books arrived at The Foundation

Juliet Ng’ambi asks for a secondary school in her village so there are enough places for all children

Let’s build a school!

Sarah’s blog 12/4/22

If only it were that easy! It’s going to take a lot of fundraising and a lot of money and some very generous people to make this work. We can do this, together!

There are just not enough secondary school places. Even though children are passing primary leavers exams and have sponsors to pay their fees, if they don’t get picked then there’s nothing they can do! We have 11 such children who have sponsors kindly paying their fees but they have had to resit p8 as they didn’t get a place in secondary school. It’s heart-breaking for them when they are working hard and know that education is a way out of the dire poverty they are living in. We have bought text books and Levison is tutoring them each week to try to ensure they get better passes and are picked for a place at secondary school in January. Life is hard and not fair for these young people. We can help them if you join us.

As you will see from some of the young people’s writing, nearly all of them want to see a secondary school in their village. All the young people who had passed their primary school leavers exams would be given a place. As a lot of the young people are orphans, living with a single parent or grandparent, the fact that they could stay at home whilst attending secondary school would be a bonus as they would still be able to help with some chores at home. Let’s make their wishes come true.

This is us getting started but we need help. We need you. What are your skills? Are you good at applying for grants? Do you have the energy and enthusiasm for fundraising? Do you know anyone famous? Or do you have a large following on social media? Please get in touch and we can do this together. We can build a school. We can change lives. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x fundraisingschool.docx

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