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

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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

At the Nursery

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Help needed!

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!

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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

Two little girls have a sponsor!

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Sarah’s blog 22/10/22

Great news! Two little girls have a sponsor. This is a single parent family with three children. Mum is really struggling to feed them. We were introduced to these children last month when Levison saw them walking the huge distance to the maize mill with someone else’s maize. They would walk all day with no food or clean water to drink. It’s a long, hard journey carrying their burdens. It’s also a dangerous journey so children stay together to reduce the chance of being attacked along the way.

Below is the original story I posted about them.

You’ll see from their ages and the classes that they are in at school that they have missed some education, especially the oldest, as they will have had to work for a pittance to help bring food into the family home. Thanks to the new sponsor, there will be food going into this home each month, the children will be given blankets and soap and they will have new clothes. Thank you for making a difference.

You can imagine, when there are over 500 orphans and other vulnerable children to support, there can be many challenges along the way. One of these is that some children are called by different names by school, at home and by their friends. The children had told Levison their names were Martha, Hope and Joseph. However, Levison has asked that we use their proper names that are registered at school to avoid confusion when checking records and speaking to the teachers.

So here is a family whose lives have been changed for the better through a kind sponsor having read my previous post. Their mother was crying with happiness when she heard that her daughters would now be supported. It’s less than £1 per day to sponsor a child and there are many, many children who would benefit from having a sponsor. You can sponsor as an individual, a family or share the cost with a friend. Or a club or business can sponsor a child and we will, of course, give your business some publicity. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to change a life today. It might be the most important thing you ever do for one of these very vulnerable young people. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

NB I will be doing an appeal over the next couple of days on behalf of another family who desperately need a helping hand. Sarah x

Life has been very hard. Mum cried when she heard that her family now have some support.
Mphatso has missed a lot of school. As the eldest child, she has had to be working to earn some money to help feed her siblings.
Roda will benefit from having a sponsor as there will be two food parcels going into the home each month and the children will receive new clothes and blankets. Hopefully, they won’t be going to the maize mill with other people’s maize.
Chikumbusko will receive new clothes and a blanket and benefit from having more food at their home via two food parcels each month. If anyone would like to sponsor him then please get in touch.

More Building updates

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Sarah’s blog 17/10/22

Things are progressing well with both the staff accommodation and the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School.

The staff accommodation has been having windows put in during yesterday and today and will need painting and doors fixing. Apart from a bit of tidying up outside, that will be it ready!

The builders have finished their work on phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School and the carpenters are working on the roof. There are still some jobs to do after that but it’s exciting to see it taking shape! It won’t be long until the first students arrive.

A teachers latrine block is also being constructed and, when finances allow, we will be building another girls and another boys latrine blocks.

The children still need your support. As yet we still need to find money for windows in the school block, doors, chalkboards, desks, more textbooks and notebooks.

Can you help us help the children please? We are nearly there but need your support to give the gift of education to some of the most vulnerable teenagers in rural Northern Malawi. They wouldn’t normally be able to afford secondary school without help. At Bright Futures Secondary School, none of these vulnerable children will have to pay anything.

Here is the link to our fundraiser and we would be so grateful if you could spare a few £££ for the children. Https://GoFund.me/44a92444 Let’s give the gift of education! Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

At sunset – the wooden roof supports on the first phase of Bright Futures Secondary School. Please help us complete this phase https://GoFund.me/44a92444 Let’s build a school!

The roof is going on the first phase of the school… two classrooms are being built in this phase
The carpenters have been working hard today please help to get it finished https://gofund.me/44a92444
The staff accommodation is almost complete. Female teachers will be offered accommodation due to the remote location. Eventually there will be male staff accommodation too.
Bright Futures Secondary School is taking shape… thank you to all who have donated so far
Putting the windows into the staff accommodation block
Female teachers will be offered accommodation
The staff accommodation is almost ready

Sisters – Naomi & Modester

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Sarah’s blog 21/9/22

When The Foundation was still quite new, Naomi brought her baby sister to the Foundation to ask for food. Naomi was delighted to be able to feed her hungry baby sister, Modester. They had been very recently orphaned and it was a huge responsibility for Naomi to look after and feed her baby sister.

I thought it was such a powerful photo that Levison took that day. Naomi was happy that she could feed Modester, having gone through the grief and trauma of being orphaned. They have both been living with their grandmother since then. I have used that photo lots of times since then as it tells the story of what these orphans and vulnerable children go through and the difference The Feeding Programme makes to hundreds of children, even though it is only once a week.

The Foundation is a refuge for children in need. They know they will have someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. Someone to play with. Somewhere to forget their problems for a little while. A safe place to just be children.

I was delighted when Levison sent me a photo of Naomi and Modester the other day. Naomi is now 14 and in p8 and Modester is 5 and attending the nursery. They are both doing well but it would really help them if they could have a sponsor. We’d love to see them continue to thrive and have an additional food parcel going into their home. If you could sponsor one of these sisters, then please do let me know. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com It is £25 per month to sponsor a child which you can share with a friend to half the cost. It might be the most important gift you give to one of these girls. Please help?

Thanks for reading and please do let me know if you can help. Sarah x

Naomi and Modester when Modester was a baby and they’d both just been orphaned. And now age 14 and 5 looking well.

International Day of Charity

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Sarah’s blog 5/9/22

The International Day of Charity commemorates the anniversary of day that Mother Teresa passed away. It is a day to think about those who have less than we do. It’s a day to think about who we can help and who we can be kind to. How can we make a difference? I have chosen just five quotes by Mother Teresa to share with you today.

  1. “Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs”
  2. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing”
  3. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”
  4. “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies”
  5. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” Mother Teresa

I hope, if you can, you will consider helping us continue doing small things to change lives of some of the most vulnerable children in northern Malawi. Our fundraiser to build a desperately needed secondary school is https://gofund.me/44a92444 Please help us give the gift of education today. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

some of the 500+ children who benefit from the feeding programme that runs once a week.

Thoughts & thanks from Levison

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Sarah’s blog 18/08/22

I sometimes think I don’t get across the sheer scale of the difficulties faced by the people that Levison and his team are trying to help in the rural far north of Malawi. When he first wanted to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, he was just thinking about those in his village. However, from reading what he has written below, you can see that people are coming every day begging for help, and walking huge distances to get to The Foundation because they have heard that they won’t be turned away. People do not have food to feed themselves or their families.

In addition to the 500+ children who are fed once a week at The Feeding Programme, the 75 preschool children who are fed three times a week in The Nursery, as well as all the other projects and wonderful things that are happening, there are so many others needing our help. These people are feeling forgotten. There are no other charities or big agencies feeding children in that area. It is a huge responsibility for The Foundation and a huge responsibility for us. That is why we rely on your help. That is why we need you as part of our team.

When you give us preloved clothes and shoes, blankets and soap…you will understand the importance of these when you read Levison’s words. It’s also important that we continue to have the funds to send this aid to the most vulnerable people in rural Northern Malawi. So, if you can, please when you donate clothes, shoes, or anything else to us, could you include some money to cover the cost of sending boxes to The Foundation. Or raise some funds for us to continue this important work. It’s £15 per box on the container. People need our help. We need you to be part of our team. Great things are happening but there is more to do. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

“Today when I was resting under a small tree to the south of the resource centre, I shed tears when I was looking at the library/shed, the shower block and other structures around. I thought much of where I am coming from in as far my charity work involvement is concerned.

Almost each and every hour we receive people from far places (some even 40km away) coming to the resource centre to ask for help. Men, women, boys and girls come to beg for food, money and clothes. These are people who really seem to be in dire poverty. We usually make sure they get relaxed, we give them food to eat. For those who may be come with some health issues like headache etc we give them painkillers like panado.

We have reserved, food, clothes, soap etc for such emergencies. When we give them the little we have, they shed tears, roll on the ground etc. These tears are tears of joy. These are the blessings we are receiving from these people. Many ask who is behind this initiative. I myself also shed tears when I hear their stories and see how thankful they are.

As a charity organisation we have contributed a lot to the community and are making a difference to the community. We have electricity, people being fed and clothed. Think of the children and women who are HIV positive, we have improved their nutrition status. On behalf of our children I would like to thank you all for your amazing love and support you are giving to us”

Levison Mlambya, 17/08/22
Some of the younger children at The Feeding Programme
Just one of the families who have been helped by The Foundation. This family’s home had been destroyed in the heavy rains. They were given this home to live in by another villager and The Foundation was able to provide food, blankets, new clothes and match two of the children with sponsors so they have two food parcels going into their home each month.
Here they are in their new, clean clothes with a big bag of maize too.
The family with some more gifts of clothes and shoes
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