Bible Knowledge & the gift of bibles

Thanks to St Michael’s Church Slateford Road, Edinburgh for helping to support the students at Bright Futures Secondary School.

Sarah’s blog 3/2/23

Last year we had a very generous donation of lots of preloved bibles from St Michael’s Parish Church, Slateford Road in Edinburgh.

Bible Knowledge is one of the subjects on the school curriculum in Malawi. Yesterday, there was time to open some more boxes and the bibles were given to the students at Bright Futures Secondary School. These will be so helpful with their studies as previously all the teenagers were trying to share only a few bibles between them. Thank you so much to St Michael’s Parish Church for supporting the students’ education.

I asked Levison when I saw these photos that he sent me yesterday why some of the students were in casual clothes. He said they got absolutely soaked through on their way to school. It’s currently the rainy season and most of these students do not have a rain jackets. You can see in the photos that some of the students have flipflops/sliders or will have walked in bare feet to keep their school shoes clean. Do you have a good rain jacket that you no longer need or that your child has outgrown that we can send to these vulnerable students please? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Also, I mentioned to Levison that everyone looked very serious in the photos. He told me it was because these photos were taken just before lunchtime and these students hadn’t eaten since the day before so they were really hungry and tired. We must try to find more support with feeding these young people. Can you commit a small monthly amount to help provide breakfast to these orphans as well as them receiving a free school lunch? There isn’t much at home for them to eat and they cannot study properly if they are hungry and malnourished. Will you help by committing £5 or £10 per month to help provide food at Bright Futures Secondary School. Because costs have risen so much, we estimate that it will cost £25 per student per month to feed them breakfast as well as lunch, so whatever you can give towards this will make a difference. We can’t do it on our own. We always say it is about teamwork and you are a valuable part of our team. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Thanks for reading and supporting these vulnerable teenagers, Sarah x

‘The time is always right to do what is right’ – Martin Luther King Jnr

Sarah’s blog 15/1/23

I absolutely love volunteering for Changing Lives Malawi and helping to support some of the most vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi. It is hard work and a huge responsibility but very worthwhile. They are in a very rural location so there are no big agencies working in that area yet. There are no big charities feeding children in primary schools that far north.

Everyone is hungry. Most are suffering from malnutrition and don’t eat properly every day. 500 children come to The Foundation each weekend to be fed at the Feeding Programme we help to support. They are given a nutritious, substantial cooked meal. Some of the 500 children walk up to 20kms for this one proper meal of the week. We can only afford to send enough money for the feeding programme to run once a week for that many children as we are also trying to address other issues for them like education, skills for life, clean water and projects that will help the community be self-sufficient.

If there were less vulnerable children needing support, it would be easier. Five hundred hungry, malnourished children of all ages is a big responsibility. We need to grow our supporters so that these children have a team of people lifting them out of dire poverty. We need you. The 500 vulnerable children need you.

So how can you help?

  1. 500+ children are fed once a week at the feeding programme. Can you make a one off payment to support this? or can you commit to a monthly amount of £5 or £10 each month? Can your business sponsor the feeding programme one day for a donation of £100. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
  2. The nursery – for 75 vulnerable preschool children, They are fed every time they meet. Can you commit to a monthly payment of £5 or £10 to support nursery feeding? Or can you help by buying a bag of gifts for a child for £12 (each child receives a gym bag containing a blanket, 3 pairs of pants, 2 red t-shirts, soap, toothbrush & toothpaste and a book). contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
  3. Bright Futures Secondary School – Phase 1 recently opened and the students are being given a nutritious hot meal each lunchtime which is probably their only meal of the day. Can you commit to £5 or £10 per month towards continuing to provide free school meals at the secondary school? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
  4. School Literacy Project – we are sending boxes of preloved books to the primary schools that are nearest The Foundation. Please could you sponsor the cost of sending a box of books for £20? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
  5. Could you sponsor a vulnerable child to help provide them with more food and help towards their education? It’s £25 p/m and you can share the cost with a friend. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com
  6. Bright Futures Secondary School – through very generous support, we raised enough money to build phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School (two classrooms and staff accommodation). We now need your help to raise funds for classrooms 3 and 4. https://gofund.me/44a92444
  7. Chickens & Eggs – now we have the incubator connected to solar power, it’s ready to be used to hatch chicken eggs. It can hold approximately 500 eggs and a tray of fertilized eggs costs £10. If you’d like to buy a tray of eggs then please do get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com The incubator was bought with a generous donation from Lochlie Construction Ltd.

We all have the ability to do our little bit to help. We all have the ability to help others and do what is right. Each of us has different skills we can use. Even if you are unable to donate financially, could you keep sharing our posts with your friends? Thanks so much for reading and supporting us to continue Changing Lives Malawi, Sarah x

Some of the pre-school children having received their bags of gifts. You can provide a bag of gifts for a child starting nursery in September for £12

Each preschool child received a bag containing; a blanket, 2 red t-shirts, pants, soap, toothbrush & toothpaste and a book. Can you help us continue to provide these gifts for £12 per child? These children also receive preloved clothes at least twice a year.
Secondary students at Bright Futures Secondary School enjoying lunch at their Christmas Party – paid for by two generous supporters.
More of the 500 children who all received a nutritious meal at the Christmas Party.
Some boys enjoying their meal. This will be the most food they will have in a week. We wish we could run the feeding programme more often than once a week.
Phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School has opened, providing free education for the most vulnerable. We now need your help to build classrooms 3 & 4.
You can’t help but smile when you see that these vulnerable children are happy and relaxed and having fun with their friends. At The Foundation they can forget their worries for a while.
This was when the incubator was first bought with a donation from Lochlie Construction Ltd, before the power supply got even worse. Thankfully now that it is running on solar power there will soon be more eggs and chicks for the nursery children to look at.

Gifts for the nursery children

Sarah’s blog 10/1/23

There are 75 vulnerable pre-school children, ages 4-6, in the nursery at The Foundation. All are malnourished, some have stunted growth. We are doing what we can in order to help them have a better start in life.

Today, because of the rains, only about half of them were there to receive the gifts we had sent. The others will get their gifts another day. Proper records are kept to ensure none of them miss out.

Today is an exciting day for them…it’s the first time they have received a book of their own to keep and take home. This is part of The Literacy Project. I am an Early Years Educator and so am passionate about these children having the opportunities that our children have. When we have access to books pre-reading starts when babies are on an adult’s knee, having a story read to them. They look at the pictures and can anticipate certain points in the story because of the way the adult reads and shares this special time with them. Toddlers will bring their favourite storybook to an adult in order that they can share the story together. They can point to things in the pictures, they know that you turn the pages and they ‘pretend’ to read by tracing the words with their fingers. They know that these letter shapes are where the story comes from.

The children at The Foundation nursery have missed out on all of these experiences. We want story books to become an every day part of their lives. We want every home to have at least two books to support literacy. I had a video call with the headteacher of Bright Futures Secondary School yesterday and she was delighted that books were being given to the children in the nursery. She said they are trying to ‘play catchup’ with the students at Bright Futures Secondary School as they have missed out on having access to reading materials from a young age. Many of the students missed a lot of school to work for a pittance to buy food….it’s been so hard for them. We look forward to seeing how having books at home makes a difference to these children and their families.

Today, each child received a drawstring bag containing, a blanket, 2 red t-shirts, pants, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap and a picture book. As I said in a recent post, in future, we want to be able to include a knitted teddy in each bag for children starting nursery. If you are able to help support this nursery project in any way then please email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Here is the link to Sunday’s post 10 Teddies – supporting the nursery children – Changing Lives Malawi Enjoy the photos and thanks for your support, Sarah x

Happy New Year 2023

Sarah’s blog 2/1/2023

Happy New Year to you all. Wishing you health & happiness in 2023.

We are looking forward to another busy and successful year. Our biggest achievement in 2022 was raising enough money for phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School to be built, providing education and a way out of extreme poverty for some of the most vulnerable teenagers in rural Northern Malawi. In 2023, we must continue our fundraising so classrooms 3 & 4 can be built by Sept 2023 in order that students can continue their education in Bright Futures Secondary School.

There are many obstacles; heavy rain (it’s the rainy season now), Cholera has closed schools in the south of Malawi (thankfully there are no cases in the far north so far), malnutrition and hunger, rising costs in Malawi, and never having enough money to do everything that needs doing or helping everyone who needs our help.

However, despite all these obstacles that are put in our way, we are changing lives. With your help, we are making a difference. We are a lifeline to hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.

We need you on our team now more than ever. As we continue to grow, we need more volunteers. Because our charity is run by a small group of dedicated volunteers, all money donated goes to the projects we support and no money is spent on admin. Here is what you can do to help us:

  1. Can you share our posts?
  2. Can you make a one off donation?
  3. Will you commit to a £5 or £10 donation each month to help us continue to feed malnourished children?
  4. Will you take part in a sponsored event for our charity?
  5. Can you host an event within your community or business on our behalf?
  6. Can you pay £20 for a box of books to be sent as part of The School Literacy Project?
  7. Can you sponsor an orphan for £25 a month to give them a brighter future?
  8. If you are in central Scotland, will you invite us to speak at your church, club or school?
  9. Can you organise collections of stationary, preloved school uniform, shoes & books for us?
  10. Are you good at fundraising or grant applications? or any other skills? we’d love to hear from you!

here is the link to the fundraiser for Bright Futures Secondary School. Each classroom costs approx £10,000 https://gofund.me/44a92444 or you can email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

My birthday is in 2 days time and I’d love it, if anyone has any spare pennies, that they help me raise some money for a microscope and some other science equipment for Bright Futures Secondary School https://www.facebook.com/donate/465142452480110/

Be part of our team, Changing Lives (in) Malawi and making brighter futures for hundreds of vulnerable children and their community. Let’s make 2023 a wonderful year for the children of Ibuluma. Let them know that they are known and people care about each of them. Please help us continue Changing Lives Malawi.

Three quotes from the late Archbishop Desomond Tutu: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’ ‘Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of insetimable value.’ ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ He was a very wise man.

Happy New Year from the team at Changing Lives Malawi! Thank you again. Enjoy these photos, Sarah x

Asante didn’t have shoes or a backpack, so he decided to make himself some out of a cardboard box! Very inventive! We found him a sponsor who sent a backpack and shoes for him. Asante was delighted with his gifts!
In the heavy rain last year, Blessings, his two siblings and their mum were made homeless when the roof of their home collapsed. This was the (better) home they were able to rent from someone else. We managed to match his two siblings with sponsors but Blessings is still waiting for a sponsor, as are many other children. We would dearly love to be able to start looking at better homes for the poorest families.
Education is the way out of extreme poverty. As part of our School Literacy Project, Chambo Primary School received 17 boxes of books to help the children become more confident readers.
Children are learning how to type on the computers in Emma’s Rainbow Library
With support from Welding Engineers, eco stoves are being made for the most vulnerable in the village. Here, one of the volunteers is preparing food for the children.
Esau came to The Foundation only wearing shorts. As you can see he was delighted to pose for photos wearing his new clothes. Esau is still waiting to be matched with a sponsor.
Children in the nursery were given new clothes and were gifted a wooden train set to play with
The children of all ages help with taking care of the fruit tree saplings. You could help with this project by buying 4 saplings for £10
The clean water supply and the shower block have made a huge difference to the vulnerable children who are supported by The Foundation. We want to do more to provide other clean water supplies and more latrines to help with hygiene and preventing cholera in this area.

Reasons to celebrate

Sarah’s blog 27/12/22

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I just wanted to post a few videos celebrating how wonderful we think the children in Ibuluma are. There are hundreds of them who are malnourished and have suffered varying amounts of trauma but, despite all that they are doing well. They now know that people care about them.

If you have helped us then we thank you. Here are ways you can support us to continue Changing Lives Malawi.

1. Donate to help us build phase 2 of Bright Futures Secondary School (classrooms 3 & 4) https://GoFund.me/44a92444

2. commit a monthly amount of £5 or £10 to support one of our feeding programmes; the nursery, secondary or weekly feeding programme for 500 children.

3. Sponsor a vulnerable child or young person for £25 per month which supports their education and provides a monthly food parcel. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the videos. I’d be grateful if you could share with others as we try to grow our audience. Thanks, Sarah x

Rugby coaching
no guitar? no problem! let’s make one!
An update from Catherine
Getting used to the new computers in the library. Children are wearing clothes from Strathblane Primary and Riverside Primary Schools in the Stirling area of Scotland.
Food, fun and dancing at the Christmas Party
Chancy thanking his sponsors and telling them he passed his exams
one of the football matches…everyone loves team sports
Trying out the new clippers we sent
Let’s dance!
Laston, one of the sponsored children, asking for a new school. He is doing well now after missing a great deal of school to help a farmer look after his cows for the equivalent of £1.50 per month.

The Polytunnel (aka The Craig Povey Up The Villa Polytunnel)

Sarah’s blog 1/12/22

We recycled a couple of old trampoline frames and sent them on the container to be used to help build a polytunnel.

Agriculture is one of the subjects on the curriculum in Malawi and, with their teacher, the young people have made the polytunnel and planted mustard, tomatoes and onion. I think it looks very impressive and, hopefully, the food will be able to be used for school lunches at Bright Futures Secondary School.

This is an opportunity that these teenagers have had to learn more skills for life and a better brighter future. How amazing to be able to grow your own food successfully and feed yourself and your friends. Hope you enjoy looking at the photos and thank you for your support, Sarah x

As we are now fundraising for phase 2 (classrooms 3 & 4) here is the link to the fundraiser https://gofund.me/44a92444 If anyone is in a position to donate £500 or more then you can have your name, the name of a loved one or your business name displayed on a building or over a classroom door. Thank you. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

At the Nursery

Sarah’s blog 30/11/22

At the nursery today, Levison was able to gift some resources that had been sent. There were books and balls to be kept in nursery to be used whilst the children are there.

When the next container arrives (hopefully very soon) there are gift bags to be given to each of the children. Each child will receive a gym bag containing; a blanket, 2 red t-shirts, 3 pairs of pants, soap, toothbrush & toothpaste and a book. This will be an ongoing project so that, in future, whenever a child starts nursery, they will be given a gift bag, and we will have a record of every child who has been given these gifts.

The books that have been donated to the nursery and that will be gifted to each child to take home, form part of The Literacy Project. The children will learn about looking at pictures, turning pages and that the words tell the story. We hope that this will help with learning to read and also that books can be read every day for enjoyment and fact finding. We want every family to have at least one book in their home and, hopefully, older children can read to their younger siblings and adults. If some adults struggle with reading, we aim to have literacy classes for them too.

Although I was glad to see these resources being given to the nursery, I feel really quite sad looking at these photos. I have enlarged some of the photos to pick out three children that I noticed. All of the 500+ orphans and other vulnerable children we help to support, through a variety of projects, are malnourished to varying degrees. These children that I have highlighted have stunted growth and one has an enlarged tummy due to malnutrition. Prices of maize and other food are rising. Families are really struggling. Levison suspects that most of these children are only eating when they are fed at nursery and when they attend the weekly feeding programme.

There are no other charities or agencies feeding children in this area. Feed The Children Charity do occasionally donate some porridge for the nursery children; however, it doesn’t last long. Children walk for up to 20km to receive one substantial nutritious meal from the feeding programme once a week. We wish we had more money to be able to feed the children more often. It’s a huge responsibility trying to fundraise for food for over 500 children.

It costs approx £125 per week to run the feeding programme once a week for 500 children. The nursery children must be fed too. This is approx £50 per week. Bright Futures Secondary School is approx £100 per week to provide nutritious lunches each day. It would really help us and help the children if we had several people committing to pay a small amount of money each month to support feeding the children. If you can spare even £5 or £10 per month then you would be making a big difference. The children need more food. The children need you to help us support them. If other people, all pay a little amount each month then we can feed these malnourished children more often. Please email for bank details contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

Thank you so much for reading and supporting us to continue helping the hundreds of vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi, Sarah x

Reviewing the first week of Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 13/11/22

Reviewing and reflecting on activities and learning is very important as it’s not all about what we think will work or what we want. It’s about improving the lives of the young people and therefore their voices need to be heard and their opinions taken into consideration when planning.

Levison asked me to speak with some of the young people this morning about their thoughts on their first week at Bright Futures Secondary School. Everyone enjoyed the school and thought the teaching was very good. They are pleased they are getting a cooked lunch at school. I was asked if there would be hostels for teens who had further to walk or who were orphaned. I was able to explain that we do want to do that eventually but next on the list is desks for the existing classrooms then we want to be able to build two more classrooms.

Later in the day Levison had a meeting with some of the parents and carers. He said they were all very supportive. He took two videos of parents saying that the amazing school project was a dream coming true and that they thanked the donors very much.

When we were planning for what resources the teachers needed, Levison was insistent that the teachers needed flip charts. I thought these would just be for making bullet points, but I now see their value. There is no printer yet to print out information from the internet, there are no colourful posters. So, the teachers have worked hard to make visuals aids for the walls of the classrooms. Not only does this provide notes for regular revision of subject matter, but it also provides proof of what lessons have been taught. Anyone visiting the school from the education department, or any other visitors will be able to see at a glance the quality of the lessons being taught.

A great first week at Bright Futures Secondary School and lots of eager teenagers are looking forward to their second week. Thanks to all who have helped make this happen, Sarah x

Parents and carers have come to talk about how they think the first week has been for their teenagers – they look serious but they have expressed how pleased they are with having the new school in the village and thanked the donors very much. They said it’s a dream come true.

School Lunches at Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 10/11/22

It’s nearly the end of the first week at Bright Futures Secondary School and things are going well. We still need to raise more money for desks and also more textbooks but some of the most vulnerable young people in Ibuluma are being educated and are having lunch at school too. This is a huge achievement for Levison and his team. Most of the young people are slightly older than they would be in UK or other countries as they have had to drop out of school to help earn a pittance to feed themselves. Life has been desperate for them all. Things are now changing.

First Day of Bright Futures Secondary School 07/11/22 – Changing Lives Malawi

These young people would not normally get the chance to go to secondary school because of the costs involve and also there were not enough places in the nearest secondary schools. So, even if you had a sponsor to pay your fees and you’d passed your primary school leavers exams, if you aren’t picked for a place at secondary school then you don’t go. This happened to 11 of our sponsored children last year which was heart breaking for them. This spurred us on to fundraise for Bright Futures Secondary School.

Because it is such a huge project to build a school and because we are operating on a shoestring, we are fundraising to build Bright Futures Secondary School in phases. We could not do this without the help of our wonderful supporters. We are very grateful to you all. We always say it is about teamwork. We all have a part to play in the team around these vulnerable children. Thanks to those who have donated, these young people have a school in their village, have a chance to have a good education, be fed a school lunch every day and have the chance of a brighter future. Thank you if you have been a part of making that happen. Thank you if you have been a part of changing their lives.

We are still fundraising for desks and more textbooks and then, after that, we will start fundraising for phase 2 of the school so that more vulnerable young people have the future they deserve. If you would like to help, then please donate here https://gofund.me/44a92444 or you can email for bank details contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Can you help with buying a desk? Or buying a textbook? Can you make a donation towards phase 2 of the school? We are also looking for people to make a monthly commitment towards feeding these young people. If we have several people all donating a small amount each month of £5 or £10 then this will ensure there is enough food for school lunches every day of the week.

The photos show the young people having their lunch at school today. They are eating nsima (ground maize), beans and vegetables. Now we know these children are having a substantial and nutritious meal in school every day. Being fed in school is also an incentive to be there every day. If you are able to support school lunches at Bright Futures Secondary school and either give a one-off donation or commit to a monthly amount, please contact me for bank details contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Some of the young people arriving at school for 7am start

First Day of Bright Futures Secondary School 07/11/22

Sarah’s blog 07/11/22

What an exciting, historic day for Ibuluma! The first day of secondary school in the village at Bright Futures Secondary School. It is for orphans and other vulnerable children. It is giving them an opportunity for an education and a brighter future that they would not normally have had. Secondary school needs to be paid for in Malawi and none of these children or their families would be able to afford to pay.

We are expecting more students to turn up this week as word spreads that the school is now open for lessons. Some young people will have been doing manual work to bring in a small amount of money at home whilst they were waiting for school to start. All of the young people who have been offered places this year are known to the Foundation and receive support via the feeding programme and other projects. In future, when more classrooms have been built, students from other primary schools other than Chambo primary school will be able to attend.

As you will see, there were enough chairs today which have been ‘borrowed’ from the library. Any more students coming later in the week will have to sit on mats on the floor. There are 130 chairs on the container that should be arriving in the next three or four weeks. Desks are something we are still fundraising for and more textbooks so if you are able to support the young people with this then we (and they) would be very grateful. https://gofund.me/44a92444 Enjoy the videos and photos, Sarah x

Help please for these children

Sarah’s blog 24/10/22

As I’d said in my post yesterday, I am looking for some help and support for a family whose dad had died suddenly on Saturday. There are three children and their mum, but they’ve lost their main breadwinner. They were living in poverty anyway, but now they are desperate.

It was the burial today and Levison attended with some others from The Foundation. He took cabbages, maize and some small fish for the family and they were very grateful.

There are three children, and I am just as concerned about the eldest boy who is 19 as I am about the younger two children. Vincent never got the chance to finish primary school as he was working to help bring in a pittance to help feed the family. So, he doesn’t even have primary school qualifications and hasn’t had much schooling. He doesn’t have a job and I am worried about his self-esteem, especially now he is the head of the household. Vincent needs a job to keep him busy and to give him self-confidence as well as bringing some money into the home. Hopefully, Levison will be able to talk more with Vincent next time he visits on his way to town.

The younger two are at primary school and really do need sponsors. Mitinala is 14 and must have missed some school too as she’s only in p7. If the family don’t find some help, then Mitinala is at real risk of being married off too soon as her mother won’t be able to feed her. Despite child marriages being illegal, unfortunately, they do still happen. For lots of the girls whom we have already managed to match with sponsors, child marriage was a real risk. By giving them a monthly food parcel at home and keeping them in school, these girls are now safe.

Canani is 9 and in p4. He needs a sponsor to ensue some food goes into their home each month and therefore he will be more likely to stay in school and not have to work. These children need food in their tummies every day so they can concentrate at school. Please will you help them?

I’m looking to get a little team round this family, whether it’s someone sponsoring one of the children or several people giving £5 or £10 a month to give this family a monthly food parcel. What can you do to help today? To sponsor a child, it is £25 per month. They get a monthly food parcel, clothes, soap and stationery, a blanket and welfare visits. You can sponsor as an individual, a family or as two friends splitting the cost. I really hope that these children touch your heart, and you are able to help them even if it’s just a few ££ per month. Please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com if you can help us change these children’s lives. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Help needed!

Sarah’s blog 23/10/22

We have some sad news and are hoping that some of our lovely supporters might help us.

The team of builders who have been working hard on Bright Futures Secondary School had the weekend off and went home. Levison heard late yesterday that one of the builders had died suddenly which, of course, has been a big shock. This man had a wife and children, although I don’t have details of the children yet. They are poor people and live in a village on the way to Chitipa town.

The funeral is tomorrow and Levison and a few others will attend. Levison will take some maize for the widow and her children. Although he wasn’t an employee of The Foundation, this family have lost their husband and dad. They no longer have his financial support. We would like to be able to help them like we try to help other families who are in need.

Would anyone be willing to help this family either by sponsoring one of the children when I have more information or by committing to a monthly amount towards a food parcel? You can email me if you can help and, hopefully, we can get a little support team around this family. Thank you, Sarah x

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