Education & Bright Futures SS

Maria Chizumira is an orphan living with her aunt and younger sister….

Sarah’s blog 24/08/23

Maria Chizumira is an orphan living with her aunt and younger sister. They are living in extreme poverty. Maria had missed school so she could try to help earn some money to buy food. When she was 15, having failed her primary school leavers exams, she asked Levison for help with her school work. Levison has previously commented to me how hard she works and how Maria will help out around the Foundation.

Maria managed to pass her primary school leavers exams and we found a sponsor for her. She went to Chisenga Secondary School for s1 and then, when Bright Futures Secondary School opened in November last year, she transferred there for s2 and worked hard for her s2 exams. Unfortunately, Maria found out she was pregnant a few months ago and this was obviously a big shock to her. However, Maria kept studying and working hard at school. She sat her s2 national exams along with her classmates while she was just weeks away from giving birth.

When her baby was due, unfortunately she needed a c-section which was very traumatic for her. Her baby boy, Wasika, arrived safely and they have both recovered well. Last week we heard that all the s2 students, including Maria, passed their s2 national exams. Maria intends to start back to school next month and her auntie will help with childcare.

Whilst having a baby before finishing education isn’t ideal, if these vulnerable teenagers didn’t have secondary education, far more of them would be pregnant and being married off too young. Secondary education in Malawi has to be paid for. Bright Futures Secondary School is free for those who cannot pay and has part-funded places for those who can contribute.

Education is the best way out of poverty and all the students want to work hard and reach their potential. We are proud of them all, especially how hard Maria has worked, and we know that her little boy Wasika will be proud of her too. Maria’s younger sister, Ethel, has just passed her primary school leavers exams. She came and asked for a place at Bright Futures Secondary School and is delighted that she now has a place in s1 next month and that we have matched her with a sponsor.

Bright Futures Secondary School will continue supporting students like Maria. Classrooms 3 & 4 are well underway for next session. However, we still need to buy text books, build a latrine block and build more teachers’ accommodation. If you are able to donate students, like Maria, will be very grateful to you. .Thanks, Sarah x

Maria (right) in a science class at Bright Futures Secondary School
Maria with baby Wakisa

In the news!

Good news from here and Malawi!

Sarah’s blog 21/08/23

It’s been an extremely busy week here and in Malawi with lots of good news.

I had been contacted by my MSP, Evelyn Tweed, asking to meet with me. So we met at Doyles Cafe in Balfron last Tuesday. I was able to tell her all about the great things that are happening in Malawi and also ask her advice. She was very supportive of me and the charity and has suggested a few ways she can offer some help.

Jackie and I had a very busy Saturday at ‘The Balfron Bash’. We had a stall with info about the charity, lovely home baking for sale and a tombola. We made £263 on Saturday…so thank you to everyone who supported us and came to say ‘hello’. Big thanks to Ewan and Stuart for their help with the gazebo and to Jackie for organising the tombola.

David, one of our trustees, took the last lot of boxes to Dundee today. The Bananabox warehouse is full and they will order a container for the first weekend in September so, hopefully, those boxes might be there by Christmas (or early January).

Chambo Primary School had their clean water taps connected yesterday. We had received a grant from The Kitchen Table Charities Trust and part of the grant was to use the clean water supply at Chambo Health Centre and run a pipe to Chambo Primary School. They now have three taps and clean water to drink and wash their hands. We are so pleased to have been able to play a small part in helping to improve lives for so many children. Chambo Primary has clean water!

The national press in Malawi have picked up on the story that, although Bright Futures Secondary School only opened in November, 100% of the second year students who sat their national exams all passed!! Such good news for them, the school and the teachers. Malawi24 – School for needy students in Chitipa appeals for… | Facebook Bright Future scores 100 percent JCE pass rate – The Malawi Guardian

We are still fundraising for phase 2 of Bright Futures Secondary School to ensure there are enough classrooms for the next intake of students. We also need to raise funds for text books as, currently for s3, there is only one set of books for the teacher. Any help that you can give will be so appreciated Thank you so much for all the support everyone, Sarah x

Me with my MSP, Evelyn Tweed at Doyle’s Cafe in Balfron
The builders are working hard to ensure the new intake of students have a classroom next month
Some of the students from Bright Futures Secondary School. They get a free lunch each day at school but, as it’s school holidays, they came to collect food parcels instead

100% exam pass rate S2 BFSS

Amazing exam results at Bright Futures Secondary School! Congratulations!

Sarah’s blog 18/8/23

We are all absolutely delighted with the news that all of the students in S2 at Bright Futures Secondary School have passed their S2 national exams.

This is a huge achievement for several reasons;

  1. Bright Futures Secondary School (classrooms 1 & 2) didn’t open until 7/11/23 so they haven’t had a full school year.
  2. Resources have been limited.
  3. These are some of the most vulnerable teenagers in Malawi. Many are orphans. Most are older as they have missed out big chunks of school to try to earn money to feed themselves.
  4. No big organisations are feeding children & young people in primary schools in this area so, until they started at secondary school, they weren’t eating properly every day. Most young people in this area are malnourished.
  5. At Bright Futures Secondary School students receive a free cooked lunch each day. This might be their only proper meal each day.

Teachers have worked hard with the students and organised study classes after school and for a few days during the Easter holidays. It is dark every day at 6pm so unless students had a candle or small torch they wouldn’t be able to study at home during the evenings. Students have now been gifted solar lamps for home use.

Congratulation to the students, to the teachers and to Levison for overseeing the whole project. It is even more vital that phase 2 of Bright Futures Secondary School is completed by mid September so that these students can continue their learning journey in S3. If you can, please donate to as we need to continue building on this success. Thanks for supporting us to support the students, Sarah x

Bright Futures Secondary School – desks, chairs, uniform & exams

Sarah’s blog 14/12/22

These are the photos we are very excited to show you. Now that the boxes, tables & chairs have arrived safely from the container, we have lots of photos that have been taken this morning.

Students at Bright Futures Secondary School are starting class exams today and these will continue over the next few days. Malawi is 2 hours ahead of us and the young people were delighted to be met with gifts of new uniform before school started for the day. The classrooms are looking brilliant with the addition of the new desks in one classroom, tables in the other classroom (that will be replaced by individual desks) and new chairs in both classrooms.

These young people do have Brighter Futures at Bright Futures Secondary School. This school was only a dream this time last year and look what has been achieved with your help. Thank you so much to all involved in helping this to happen for these children. We need to keep looking ahead and are still fundraising for classrooms 3 & 4 so if you can help us, it would be very much appreciated. or email I keep saying that it is always about teamwork and these vulnerable children need us as the team around them to ensure their futures are brighter and that we continue to be able to change their lives.

To all the students – we are very proud of you. Good luck in your exams and try your best. You can achieve and you will achieve, and you will have chances and choices open to you.

Thank you for reading and supporting us to help the vulnerable children. Hope you enjoy the photos, Sarah x

Children’s Education

Sarah’s blog 8/8/22

In Malawi, children in their last year of primary school and in the second year of secondary school, have all been busy with exams. The fourth year of secondary school will sit exams in October. Just like for our children, it’s a stressful time and a lot of pressure for the young people.

However, unlike most of our children, the children supported by The Foundation, have faced huge trauma. Most children have had family members who have passed away. Children are being cared for by extended family or another family have taken them in. Even if children are still with their parents or one parent, there is not enough food coming into their homes to enable the children to eat properly every day. Some children may have one basic meal a day, others might have to go without food or try to find food themselves.

We send money to support The Feeding Programme which feeds 500+ children once a week. They get a substantial and nutritious meal. Some children walk up to 20km for that meal as there are no big agencies feeding children in schools in that area. We would love to be able to feed the children more often but costs are rising and we, along with The Foundation, are trying to work holistically, so that money is also going to future projects for the benefit of the whole community and for them to be self-sufficient.

Teachers have noticed a difference in the concentration of the children and young people who are supported by The Foundation just from that one meal a week at the Feeding Programme. Imagine the difference if they were able to have more food more often? Once the fruit tree saplings have matured and are producing fruit the children will be able to have fruit to supplement their diet.

Children have had clean clothes instead of the rags they were wearing and are attending school more regularly and their self-esteem is better. However, are they sleeping properly? Are they cold? Are hunger pains keeping them awake? Most of the children supported by The Foundation won’t have anything to eat before school. They certainly won’t have anything to eat during school…if they are lucky they may have something once they get home. Sponsored children receive a monthly food parcel to supplement the food in their homes. All children are malnourished to different extents. Some children have stunted growth due to lack of food and nutrients in their early life. All 500+ children need our help.

The nursery has been set up for preschool children three times a week. It was intended for 50 children but now 75 children attend. They are fed at each session. There is some porridge provided by Feed The Children, for which we are grateful, but it doesn’t last long so we are supporting feeding these hungry children. These preschool children still aren’t having enough food and nutrition but what they are getting is more than the older children. Year on year the children should have better nutrition. We also want to be helping expectant mothers, babies and toddlers.

I’m typing as the thoughts are coming into my head so I am sorry if this isn’t flowing as well as it should, but the children’s wellbeing is very important to me and I have so many ideas sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my brain!

So are we expecting too much from these vulnerable children and young people who are doing exams? Would we send our children into an exam without breakfast? Imagine if a child hadn’t been eating enough for a long period of time…how can they learn if they are hungry and tired? Basic needs have to be met first before children can start thinking about anything else. Have they slept properly on the ground in their very basic home? Unless they are sponsored, they don’t have a torch to do homework after 6pm when it gets dark each day. What about the trauma of people they love passing away? Girls had been missing out on school for one week every month until the Period Poverty Project was established. Some children had missed lots of school to try to earn a pittance to buy food.

The odds of achieving had been stacked against them. But things are changing. As long as the children are trying their best then that’s all we can ask of them or expect of them. Whether they pass exams or they don’t, they will have learned more being in school than out of school, also they are safer in school and there is less risk of teenage pregnancy and girls being married off too soon. Their literacy skills and numeracy skills will be better than if they hadn’t attended school. These skills will help the young people in future whatever they do. These children are doing brilliantly to do what they do each day, to learn at school. In the local primary, apart from year 8 all the children are sitting on the floor. Another issue we want to address when we can.

What I am trying to say is that the orphans and other vulnerable children, whether at primary school or at secondary school have had a very tough life so far and have missed out on some of the basics that every child should have. Hopefully, because we are introducing books in the nursery, library and primary schools and because children are having more nutrition, we should see literacy levels rise each year and children achieving better results in their exams. But, just like anywhere in the world, not all children are academic and so they should be supported to learn a trade or whatever they want to do. These children are brilliant. They are resilient. They are survivors. We are proud of each and every one of them. They will have brighter futures with a team supporting them at The Foundation.

We are looking to partner with businesses, clubs, families or individuals who will commit to a monthly donation towards the feeding programme. We have a few people already helping us with this and we’d love more people to help and share the costs so that these children can have at least two decent meals each week. We sent money for fruit tree saplings and we want to send more money so this is a future source of food and a source of income. If you would like to support the feeding programme with a monthly donation then please email me at . We will continue making a difference with your help and we will continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading and supporting the children, Sarah x

Children in a classroom at Chambo Primary looking at the books that the school had just been gifted as part of The School Literacy Project.
These three photos are from approximately three years ago but I think they are very powerful. 1.Little children enjoying their meal at the Feeding Programme. 2.Volunteers & some older girls preparing food for all the children. 3. A big sister delighted to have something to feed her baby sister…they had both just become orphans.
The children in nursery have received new clothes and flipflops. They were also sent a preloved trainset. It was all put in the middle of the floor and the children were observed working out what to do with the pieces and the trains…it didn’t take them long, despite never having seen a trainset before!

Waiting for exam results

Sarah’s blog 14/12/21

Four of our sponsored girls (Telinah, Jean, Milliam & Dinales) have all left school now and are busy helping at The Foundation until their exam results are announced in the new year. They can then decide if they want to stay and work at The Foundation, get a job elsewhere or if they want us to try to help them into further education.

36 sponsored young people will be heading to secondary school in January. This includes 22 who have just finished primary school. As long as they pass their exams, which should be out later this week, 22 will be starting first year, 12 young people will be going into second year and 2 into fourth year. This is a huge achievement for a village where it was just accepted that children and young people do not get the chance to go to secondary school. This is one of the many ways that sponsors are helping to change the lives of these young people. SPONSORING A CHILD gives the gift of education and gives these young people chances that they never thought were meant for them. Sponsoring a child is probably one of the most important things you will ever do. £25 per month can change the future for a young person. We still have lots of primary school leavers whom we haven’t found sponsors for yet, so if you can help as an individual, two friends, a family or a business then please do get in touch

As soon as Levison hears exam results and that all our children have passed we have a big list of shopping to get. Uniforms, shoes, bedding, buckets for washing clothes, bags, plates, cups, towels, flip-flops, soap, exercise books and pens and the list goes on…… Usually, the school term starts in February but this time it’s January 3rd to catch up from schools being closed due to covid last year. So if you do have £25 to spare (or two friends with £12.50 each) could you give one of these children, who still don’t have sponsors, the gift of education? Thanks for reading, Sarah x

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