In memory of a special lady

Sarah’s blog 14/11/21

It would have been my lovely mother-in-law’s birthday today. After she passed away, we sent money to Levison for him to buy fruit tree saplings in memory of her. Levison has kindly taken photos of some of the saplings for me to add to this post and we are sending more money to mark her birthday and to buy some more tree saplings.

As you know, it’s so important for the planet to plant more trees and we are hoping that people will join this initiative and support us. With COP26 having just finished and there still being a huge amount of work to do, it’s so important to plant hundreds of tree saplings to protect the environment and planet.

As wood has been the only source of fuel for cooking and warmth, previously lots of wood has been needed. However, Levison and team are going to look at making briquettes from agricultural waste and the eco-stove project is continuing so much less wood will be used in future. The eco-stoves use far less fuel and are enclosed so they are much safer to cook on.

Although these fruit tree saplings are small, Levison assures me they will grow fast during the rains which will be coming within the next few weeks. There should be fruit in the next couple of years. This project benefits the planet and the people. The most vulnerable people. The William Stewart Foundation supports over 800 orphans and other vulnerable young people and there are no agencies feeding children in schools in that area. Approximately 500 malnourished children are fed a nutritious meal once a week at the Foundation. That is their one substantial meal of the week. Imagine being able to add fruit to their diet too? A huge orchard of fruit trees will mean a healthier community. It will also create employment and any surplus fruit will be able to be sold as a source of income for the Foundation, helping them on the road to self-sufficiency.

Four fruit tree saplings are £10. I am buying 8 today in memory of Isa Black, my lovely mother-in-law. We would love your help to support this project to plant a sustainable future in rural northern Malawi. I can change the wording on e-gifts for any occasion and personalise them. You could also have a sign in the orchard in memory of a loved one. Just let me know and I can help. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Fruit Tree Saplings – planting a sustainable future

Sarah’s blog 12/11/21

Imagine a community without enough to eat. Not much energy to work as they haven’t eaten enough, not much work to go around as everyone is after the same jobs doing piecework. Children missing school to walk long distances to the nearest maize mill carrying heavy burdens. No water to drink, no food to eat.

Thankfully, things are improving in Ibuluma where The William Stewart Foundation is. However, the situation was so bad that there is a lot still to do. The task is daunting but we know we have people supporting us to raise the money needed to fund the projects. We are very grateful for the group of people who contribute funds, goods, their time and effort. However, we need to do more. How can we reach more people? How can we increase our regular income? Who could donate or fundraise? Please have a think about these questions as just maybe you might have the answer.

These are some of the ways that lives have improved so far for the hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children supported by The Foundation. Remember, there are no big charities in the far north of Malawi feeding children in schools….The William Stewart Foundation is all these extremely vulnerable children have. We need to ensure more food for their future.

  1. The Feeding Programme – at least 600 children are fed once every week, maize and vegetables from The Foundations crops are used where possible.
  2. The Foundation Nursery – 50 preschool children meet 3 times a week to play and are fed porridge or other food at each session. The nursery children have all been given a blanket each and a uniform. There are waterproof jackets for them that will be given out once the rains start.
  3. The Mother & Baby project – thanks to donations of baby clothes & blankets and beautiful knitting that has been donated, Levison was able to visit the maternity ward at the local health centre. Babies will be warm and, if health professionals tell the mums that they can return for more clothes for their babies in a few weeks, that gives the health experts another chance to interact with the mums and babies and have another chance for a check up.
  4. Thanks to lots of donations of preloved school uniform, other clothes and shoes, all children and young people have had new clothes to wear and their self-esteem is improving.
  5. Thanks to several sports clubs and generous people who have donated for The Foundation, children now feel like proper football or netball teams and have a sense of identity and belonging with their friends. They can forget their problems whilst learning about and playing football, netball & other sports.
  6. 70 of the most vulnerable children and young people now have been matched with sponsors, enabling them to have a monthly food parcel and their secondary school education paid for them…an opportunity which would not have been open to them without support from their sponsors.
  7. Several orphans have been helped to find homes with foster families following bereavement. These kind families have also received support to accommodate an extra mouth to feed.
  8. 20 plus teenagers are on the apprenticeship scheme, learning agricultural skills as well as bricklaying, making eco-stoves and animal husbandry etc.
  9. Children and young people are learning life skills like gardening and growing crops, animal husbandry, sewing, knitting and carving.
  10. Period Poverty Project; each girl who needs one is gifted a drawstring bag with 3 pairs of pants (donated by charity Smalls for All) 5 reusable sanitary towels, soap and a health information sheet. They now no longer have to miss one week of school each month. They have dignity and do not need to hide in shame. There are a group of girls using the hand turn sewing machines to make these as well as masks for everyone for protection during the pandemic.
  11. School Literacy Project; local schools are being gifted boxes of books to help children practice and improve their literacy levels.
  12. Emma’s Rainbow Library has been built, giving children access to a variety of books and we are adding more as time goes on.
  13. Most importantly; The Foundation has a clean water supply making a huge difference to this community. The shower block has recently been completed as the second part of the WASH project.
  14. Fruit trees are being planted, helping the planet but also providing food for the people…planting a sustainable future…we need support with this as we are just at the start of this project.

I’m sure there are lots of other things I haven’t mentioned, and as soon as I’ve finished typing I will probably think ‘oh I forgot to say that’….but as you can see there have been many changes and improvements but lots more work to do. We’d love more people to support us….it’s all about playing a small part of a team and together we can continue #changinglivesmalawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

School Holiday plans

Sarah’s blog 9/11/21

The school year is very different in Malawi than it is here. They are also playing catch up with schools having being closed for an extended period due to covid restrictions, so the school holidays are slightly less than usual.

Children need to be kept busy during the school holidays. The orphans know that The Foundation is their safe place. They can forget their trauma and hardships for a while and enjoy being children again with their friends in a place where they know they are cared for and important.

In the Chitipa area, especially where the Foundation is, teenage pregnancy rates were amongst the lowest in the country during the period when schools were closed because of covid. If the teenagers have somewhere to go, activities to do, skills to learn then they are at less risk of being sexually active and having teenage pregnancies. This is another reason why it’s so important for teenagers (especially girls) to have opportunities open to them like education. If people believe in them then they are more likely to believe in themselves.

So, during the next two weeks, these are some of the activities that have been planned for the children to get involved with;

  1. There will be football and netball training sessions and matches for different age groups on most days.
  2. Emma’s rainbow library will be open every day for children to borrow books.
  3. There will be paired reading offered for older children to help those who are struggling with their reading.
  4. Also a lego club with challenges for children working in small groups; can you build a house? how high can your tower be before it falls over? can you make a tower out of a sequence of two colours, three colours etc.
  5. The Period Poverty Project will be stocking up with new supplies. Each girl who requires one will be given; a drawstring bag, 3 pairs of pants, 5 reusable sanitary towels, a bar of soap and a health information sheet. This gives them dignity, and self-confidence and ensures they do not need to miss school for one week every month. First, new bags need to be made and also reusable sanitary towels. There are new pants on the container courtesy of Smalls for All charity.
  6. Children can learn how to weave door mats. Hopefully, if funds allow, there will be some resources bought to start weaving baskets.
  7. There is always work to do with the crops and looking after the chickens and goats. Ridges need to be made in the fields before seeds are planted. So there will be plenty of skills the children can learn whilst they are helping with the farming projects.

Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the feeding programme will still only be at the weekends. In future it would be good to be able to run an additional session or sessions during school holidays. Perhaps someone might sponsor the feeding programme for a day? Or a business could sponsor the feeding programme and we would publicise your company? It costs approximately £100 each time 500 children are fed. Or would you like to help with the purchase of fabric for the Period Poverty Project? Or buying resources for weaving? Please get in touch if you would like to help contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Of course, we are looking forward to seeing lots of holiday photos! thanks for reading, Sarah x

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Sarah’s blog 7/11/21

There are so many rights in this document but I’m just highlighting a few today with regards to the hundreds of children and young people supported by The William Stewart Foundation in rural Northern Malawi.

‘Children have the right to clean water to drink, healthy food, clothes and a safe environment to live in.’

‘Every child who has been placed somewhere away from home should have their situation checked regularly to see if everything is going well and if this is still the best place for the child to be.’

‘Every child has the right to an education. Primary education should be free. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible.’

‘Every child has the right to rest, relax, play and take part in cultural and creative activities.’

These are just a few of the statements I have picked out of the document. Things are obviously very different in Malawi than they are here but you can see that we are supporting Levison and his team to help the children holistically.

How can they learn if they are hungry and can’t concentrate? How can they go to school without clothes to wear? How will their self-esteem be if they are in rags compared to their friends? What about if they don’t have soap to wash themselves and their clothes?

The children are benefitting from all the work being done to support them at The Foundation. There are now showers, clean water to drink, they are fed at the weekend, new clothes and shoes gifted, there are crops in the fields, books to read, foster families found for children completely on their own and skills for life taught to the children. There is also a nursery for 50 pre-school children which meets (and feeds them) three times a week. Apprentices are learning skills whilst they work and other children are going to school.

So much good is happening but there is still so much to do that we need your help with. We are all part of the team around these orphans and other vulnerable children. So please help us if you can. We need CHILD SPONSORS and FUNDRAISERS, and loads of volunteers in between! Whatever your skills or finances, we would welcome your help. We have lots of sustainable gifts for Christmas too that we are hoping people will buy. Please get in touch. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Appeal – Planting a Sustainable Future

Sarah’s blog 3/11/21

As the world is highlighting changes that we all need to make to protect our planet at COP26 in Glasgow, we are doing our bit too. We would love you to help us support The William Stewart Foundation by expanding their Eco Stove Project. Levison would also like the apprentices to start making briquettes from agricultural waste, saving trees and also planting a large number of fruit tree saplings, bringing food for the future and planting for the planet. Please join us by buying fruit tree saplings as alternative, sustainable gifts. We can presonalise messages, and send either by email or by post with a card. Contact us via the website or facebook or by emailing contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com and we will help you purchase your gifts to plant a sustainable future in Northern Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Saving a Life

Sarah’s blog 26/10/21

Chikambusko is an orphan. She was living with her grandad who went into hospital and subsequently passed away. Chikambusko was alone, suffering from malnutrition and malaria. Levison found her a sponsor and a home with another sponsored child, Timothy, and his grandmother who is now fostering Chikambusko. Although she has been through so much trauma and upset, as you can see from today’s photos, she is looking well, settled and happy. Who knows what would have happened to Chikambusko had The Foundation not helped her. As an holistic approach is taken (not just feeding them) caring about each of them, over time they start to blossom. Today’s photos have made my heart glad. Thanks to her sponsors for their support. If you would like to make a difference to a child like Chikambusko then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . It’s only £25 per month. There are so many people helping in small ways and part of the team and together we are Changing Lives Malawi. You can sign up to receive updates. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

The Feeding Programme

Sarah’s blog 17/10/21

Just thought we would bring you some photos of the feeding programme today. Approximately 400 children came and were fed today. The children have nsima (made from maize), beans, tomato relish and vegetables. This is their biggest and most nutritious meal of the week. As there are so many to feed, the children are fed by age groups. We are grateful for the volunteers who cook and serve the children.

You can sign up to receive updates from our website. Thanks, Sarah x

The big cooking pot of nsima (maize) cooked over an open fire. This method isn’t as safe as an enclosed stove and also uses more wood. The eco stoves that have been made are too small for this pot but hopefully a bigger one can be made to accommodate this huge container.

A great photo of one of the eco stoves, made by the apprentices, with a generous donation from Welding Engineers. Because they are enclosed, they are safer for the person cooking, and any children. They retain more heat and also use less wood which is much better for the environment. People also spend less time gathering wood each week.

some of the younger children enjoying their lunch
one of the younger children, Legina age 6, enjoying her food