31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 14

Sarah’s blog 15/5/22

Good morning! Things went a bit downhill yesterday. I’ve been so tired and had a headache all day. I still went on my exercise bike yesterday but only managed 10km. I’d stuck to rice and vegetables but by dinner time Stuart and I both decided I needed something else to eat, so he made me an omelette. It was lovely to have something different to eat but I didn’t really enjoy it as I should have as I was feeling so guilty that I’d had to supplement the rice and vegetables. Despite having an early night too, it took me ages to get to sleep because of a headache.

That isn’t really what I wanted to report at day 14, two weeks into my challenge, but it’s about honesty and just eating rice and vegetables for a month is obviously harder than it sounds because of lack of nutrients in my diet. So although I am determined to stick to completing this challenge, I will be making sure I have more beans and I’m also going to add a multivitamin each day. There is no point in making myself really poorly through this challenge, I need to be sensible as lots of people are depending on me. Yesterday was a warning that my body is needing more than I’m giving it through rice and vegetables. I’ve still got a headache today but hopefully it will go once I’ve eaten and had some vitamins.

How do the malnourished children in Ibuluma cope? No wonder they can’t concentrate as well at school if their basic needs aren’t being met like they should be. Thankfully, the Feeding Programme is making a difference to them although it’s only once a week. By planting fruit tree saplings we are investing in their future food and a source of income. We need to keep investing in this community to help them to future self-sufficiency. Planting even more fruit tree saplings is a great, and relatively cheap way to achieve this. At £10 for 4 saplings it’s an ongoing project that you can donate to at any time.

I’m needing your support please as I continue with my challenge to raise funds for building a school. There are not enough school places. Education is the way out of poverty for the orphans and other vulnerable children. All children deserve the gift of education. Please donate https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 thanks for reading, Sarah x

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 13

Sarah’s blog 13/5/22

12.15pm Pot of soup made! 15km on exercise bike done! I’m doing ok but finding it quite hard to concentrate on other things apart from this challenge today. I’ve almost completed two weeks and I’m really pleased that I’ve had the willpower to do this challenge….I just need to keep going and need your help. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

The thought that the hundreds of malnourished children supported by The Foundation don’t have the choices I have is keeping me going and focused on my challenge. They don’t have the luxury of choosing which vegetables they will be eating and how they will be cooking them. They might go a whole day without eating at all. Things are improving for them but there is still a long way to go.

Having a school in their village will make a huge difference. It will bring employment as well as education for all. It will mean that young people don’t need to board at school and can stay at home and help their families with chores. All children deserve an education. All children deserve enough to eat. All children deserve to have the opportunities to be the best they can be. Please support my challenge to build a school for them.

I thought I’d also show you a photo of some beautiful knitting for babies that we received recently. These little jackets will be so appreciated by new mothers for their babies. We are very grateful for all the donations and support we receive to help us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

beautiful knitting for babies in Malawi that we received recently

two lots of tasty soup I made this week – glad of a different way to eat vegetables

15km done today

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 9

Sarah’s blog 9/5/22

Day 9 already! It’s been a busy one as I’ve completed a grant application and an article for a magazine. I enjoyed my lunch today as it had some herb butter on it (just a little bit) but just that made it taste wonderfully different to what I have been eating. I’m grateful for little choices that I can make….the malnourished children in Malawi that we are supporting don’t have that choice…their choice is trying to find enough food and to survive. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

Thankfully, we support the Feeding Programme to feed 500 children a substantial, nutritious meal once a week as there are no big charities feeding children in schools that far north. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to feed them more than once a week. We would love to be able to set up a Porridge Programme so that each child has some food in their tummy each day before lessons. However, that would cost a great deal of money. Eventually, once the situation improves for the villagers, they will be more self-sufficient and there will be more employment, more food and they will be able to feed themselves.

I went on my exercise bike…with my tablet next to me on top of the drawers next to my bike. I must have been so into the story I was reading that I looked up and I’d already gone past 10km….so I thought I’d keep going….guess what? I cycled 15km today. My legs are a bit like jelly but I did it!! If you’d like to support my efforts and my fundraising to build a much needed school then please donate at https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading, Sarah x

31 Days in May – Sarah’s Challenge – Day 5

Sarah’s blog 5/5/22

8.30am Good morning! I was wide awake at bedtime and struggled to get to sleep but once I was asleep I slept well. So that’s a positive to start off with! I’m feeling hungry this morning but I’ve got a zoom meeting at 9.30am so will wait until after that before having anything to eat.

I can’t believe I’m at day 5 already. Hopefully, this will become more like a habit as time goes on and I won’t be having to think about what to eat and when or having to remember when to go on the exercise bike. I am so grateful for the generous donations towards building the school so far. The fundraiser is sitting at £750 already! I really hope that we can raise a much bigger amount as I’d love to be able to say that we’ve raised enough money for a classroom block or at least one classroom. We will need to get proper quotes from the builders but we estimate that a classroom will cost £4,000 to build. Once we have raised enough money to make it possible, plans will be drawn up, with the builders, to see what the possibilities are and how much it will cost. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

It would be wonderful to be able to start off with a block of 3 classrooms for next years S1 pupils, accommodation for their teachers if needed, 2 dormitories, a kitchen and a toilet block. Thankfully, clean water and a shower block and a library are already there. It’s certainly a challenge but we can do this! The children need us to help them.

Once the school was built for the S1 pupils, we would continue raising funds and applying for grants if possible, so that each year the school would be added to until all four years were completed. It’s a huge project but one that is key to the successful education of hundreds of the most vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi. Building a school will provide jobs whilst the school is being built, employment for teachers and other staff and most of all, the gift of a good education for all. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

We will need people to fundraise for us, to take on challenges, to raise awareness, to pay for some bricks or a roof panel or your company could sponsor a classroom. I always say it’s teamwork because we are a team. Each of us has an important part to play in helping to make lives better for the children we support. We can’t change their lives without you.

20.30pm Wow, my day suddenly got really busy so I only managed to get round to my 10km an hour ago….but I did it! I had a bowl of rice and a few mixed beans at lunchtime, some celery mid afternoon and I’ve just finished a salad. It will be a bit harder tomorrow when there is takeaway pizza about. However, I couldn’t have any because I’m gluten intolerant so at least I won’t be tempted.

Please, please, please help me help the children have a good education and the chance of a better future. Thanks for reading, Sarah x https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

That’s 50km completed so far!!

31 Days in May – Sarah’s challenge – Day 1

Sarah’s blog

Let’s build a desperately needed school so all children can have the gift of education. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

I am trying to raise awareness of how little the hundreds of children in Ibuluma, northern Malawi have to eat. All children supported by the Foundation are malnourished. They are fed a nutritious, substantial meal once a week at the Feeding Programme. This is their biggest meal of the week. Some days some of the children might not eat at all. I am eating rice (instead of maize flour) and vegetables each day in May to represent what the children eat. I’m very aware that I am privileged to have this every day instead of just once a week and, of course, this is my choice. The hundreds of children we are helping to support have no choice.

I am also cycling 10km a day on my exercise bike to represent how far the younger children walk each day to school and back (5km each way).

I need your help to keep encouraging me please. I also need you to help me raise enough money to build a school. https://gofund.me/ca9c1629

This morning I woke up and the realisation hit me that today is the day I start this challenge. I know that a lot of it is about having the right mindset and I am looking at this as a challenge….not a diet or anything else weight loss related….just a challenge to raise awareness of how little the orphans and vulnerable children in Ibuluma have to eat.

I decided I would have a packet of microwave rice so that it was easy to know how much I was going to eat. I had about a third of it for breakfast with some cucumber, a tomato and 2 beetroot. That was ok, no problem. A couple of hours later I cycled 5km on my exercise bike but then started to feel quite light headed. I had a bowl of lettuce and a big glass of water which filled me up but it wasn’t long before I started feeling light headed again so I finished the rest of the packet of rice. At less than 400 calories per packet I think it was a bit silly thinking I could just have one packet per day. It’s strange how much I’m thinking about food….not food that I can’t have….but just thinking when I can have something else to eat.

I cannot imagine not having anything to eat all day until dinner time. Or even worse, going a whole day with nothing to eat at all. The children in Ibuluma look forward to The Feeding Programme each week, knowing they are going to get a substantial meal…..how must they feel when it’s really heavy rain and they can’t go? Huddled at home, under a leaking roof, with a sore tummy because it’s so empty. The disappointment of not getting to The Feeding Programme must be huge.

Another project we will eventually have to tackle is building bridges across the rivers. If it rains, it is too dangerous for children to cross the rivers as they are too deep and children might get swept away. So some children, if they live across the river, have to stay at home to be safe. We’ve so much to do to help this community back on their feet and to self-sufficiency….we can but do a bit at a time.

Thankfully, the teachers have noticed that children can concentrate better and their grades are improving just from one meal a week which supplements whatever small amounts they get at home. Things are better…but not ideal.

Another big glass of water and 5km on the exercise bike. That wasn’t too bad. Now how long until I can have some more food? For dinner I am going to have some rice (surprise, surprise) with onion, mushrooms and courgettes….and another big glass of water! If I get hungry later I will have a carrot and another big glass of water! I’ll let you know in tomorrow’s blog how this evening goes and if I am starting to get a bit grumpy…let’s hope not. I’m keeping focused on the children I want to help and the school I want to help build. I’d love it if you could support me please https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Chambo Primary where they sit on the ground. We need to build a secondary school for these children as there are currently not enough places so if children do not get picked then they don’t go to secondary school. Education should be available to all children.

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

30/4/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All over the world

Sarah’s blog 20/4/22

One thing I like about our charity having a website is to see how many views there have been of the posts, which posts are most popular and all the countries in the world where people are accessing our website and reading my blogs.

Today, we have had visitors from the UK, USA, Ireland, Spain, Malawi and even as far as Israel! Yesterday, we had views from China, and two days ago we were viewed from Canada. Thanks so much for looking at our website. Hopefully, you’ll be able to share with your friends and family about how we are supporting so many vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.

Here is the link to my fundraiser from my earlier post. We are raising funds for a desperately needed school. Thanks for reading and your continued support, Sarah x

https://gofund.me/bd6578d7

Fundraising challenge to build a school

Sarah’s blog 20/04/22

Every now and again a mad idea pops into my head. This mad idea keeps popping into my head so I’m going to go with it. I am slightly concerned with this idea. As I’ve said previously, there are not enough secondary school places. We need to build a school for all children to be able to access the education they deserve.

Back in February, I was going to set myself a challenge to get fitter. However, it was too soon after my surgery to have a kidney tumour at the end of November. I’m feeling stronger now, so am going to try my very best with this challenge.

For the thirty one days of May I will highlight the plight of the hundreds of malnourished orphans and other vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi. I will do a challenge each day for those 31 days. Secondary school pupils have to board as it’s too far to walk (over 20km away) and primary school pupils walk approximately 5km to school and 5km back home, some not having eaten at all that day.

At the Feeding Programme, once a week, 500 malnourished children are fed a substantial and nutritious meal. There are no big agencies feeding children in this area. We currently cannot afford to feed them more often. However, teachers are noticing that the children can concentrate better even from this one meal a week and their grades have improved.

Now for the crazy idea! During May, for the 31 days of May, I will cycle 10km on my exercise bike each day. This represent the walk to and from school for the primary school children. Due to mobility problems, I cannot walk far but I can cycle on my exercise bike (usually only 5km at a time). Each day, I will only eat one bowl of vegetables/salad and one bowl of rice (instead of maize flour). This represents the small amount of food the children have. Even so, I am very aware that although I will be eating that each day, this is the children’s biggest meal of the week. Some days many children may go without food at altogether.

So please sponsor me to cycle 10km each day in May and only eat one bowl of rice and one bowl of veg each day in May. Let’s build a school! I have a fundraiser link https://gofund.me/bd6578d7 or you can text SCHOOL to 70560 to donate or email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details.

If you would like to join in the challenge during May then please get in touch. Or could your children do a sponsored book read? Read one book a day every day in May? There are lots of ways you can help us continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Ten ways you can help us

Sarah’s blog 14/04/22

Children – There are hundreds of children, like Rodrick and his sister Lucia, who are suffering from malnutrition. They are hungry. They cannot concentrate properly as their bodies are lacking nutrients. Some have very stunted growth. Rodrick and Lucia have been given new clothes and attend the weekly feeding programme were , along with 500 other vulnerable children, they are given a substantial and nutritious meal. They are all still hungry and malnourished as they don’t eat every day. No big agencies are feeding children that far north in Malawi, so it is down to us to send money to feed these malnourished children.

Education – is also the key to these children having a better future. Unfortunately, there are not enough school places. We need to raise money to build a school so these children can have the education they deserve. Education should be available to everyone. The villagers want to be self-sufficient. They want to be able to provide for their families. They want their children to go to school and have the opportunities that they didn’t. The children work hard and are desperate to go to school.

Lack of school places – Currently, there are not enough school places available. Eleven sponsored children who passed their primary school leavers exams did not get picked for a place at secondary school and are resitting their last year at primary school. Will they get picked this year? So worrying for them and heart-breaking.

Help us please – There are great things happening at The Foundation and lives are changing for the better. However, there are so many children and so much to do that we cannot do what needs to be done without adding to our supporters and team.

  1. We need fundraisers – we need people to organise small or larger events where you live, for your friends or community, on our behalf for the children.
  2. We want active people to take part in sponsored events for our charity – is that something you can do? Walking, running, swimming, trampolining, a sponsored silence? Can you do this with your friends?
  3. We need people to help us at events we organise eg looking after a stall, selling raffle tickets, making tea & coffee.
  4. We need more sponsors to be matched with children like Rodrick and Lucia so they have a monthly food parcel at their home, clothes, a blanket, school supplies etc. We have 90 children & young people matched with sponsors so far but there are many more in desperate need. Can you help? It’s only £25 p/m.
  5. Can you make a monthly donation to the feeding programme? Even a regular donation of £5 or £10 per month will make a big difference if several people sign up for this.
  6. Can you make a donation from your company? We can give you publicity.
  7. We need people to collect books so we can send them to schools.
  8. We also need people to collect stationery, shoes, new underwear etc for all age groups to adult, and collect funds to cover the cost of transportation.
  9. Will you invite us to talk at your club, church or school and show photos of the work taking place in Malawi?
  10. Will you tell your friends, family, colleagues etc about our charity and like and share our posts?

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details or to volunteer. It’s about teamwork and we all have a part to play in Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Rodrick and his sister Lucia are suffering from malnutrition

Let’s build a school!

Sarah’s blog 12/4/22

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

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

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

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

‘I alone cannot change the world….’

Sarah’s blog 10/4/22

A quote from Mother Teresa ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples’

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has’ Margaret Mead.

I found blogging very difficult to start with. It’s not in my nature to put myself forward….I’m much more comfortable behind the scenes. However, although these blogs are written by me, they are all about bringing news and photos from The Foundation about the hundreds of vulnerable children we are trying to help. The blogs are about raising awareness, raising funds and trying to bring more supporters into our team.

In order to keep helping the community towards self-sufficiency, we do need to widen the net and increase our team. Self-sufficiency is the end goal and always has been but things have been so bad for this rural community it is going to take a while and a lot of support.

All children in this rural community are malnourished. Most do not eat properly every day. Some go for a couple of days without eating at all. The plan was to set up The Feeding Programme for approximately 200 orphans and vulnerable children who live in the villages surrounding The Foundation. However, there are no big agencies feeding children in that area. I have made contact with them numerous times but they are busy further south. Some children are walking up to 20km for their one substantial, nutritious meal each week. On average 500 children and young people are fed every weekend. Teachers are noticing a difference to these vulnerable children’s concentration and grades after The Feeding Programme being set up. If this is after one meal a week, imagine the difference to these children if they were able to eat nutritious food more often?

I can’t imagine not being able to feed my children. Especially during the pandemic when the schools were closed, my youngest son was looking in the fridge for food an hour after he’d had his breakfast. He wanted lunch at 10.30am….I think quite a few children were like this whilst at home and out of their routine. We had to say ‘no’ some of the time. We said ‘have some fruit’ ‘have a carrot or cucumber’ or ‘have a glass of water to fill yourself up until lunchtime’. We live in a totally different world to those living in dire poverty in Ibuluma and surrounding villages in rural Northern Malawi.

Lack of food will affect strength to carry out manual jobs like collecting and carrying wood, carrying maize, walking to school, it will make them tired and cold, it will mean stunted growth and malnutrition and the inability to concentrate. Imagine your children were crying with hunger and you’d nothing to give them. Imagine the hopelessness of sending your young children out to work instead of them attending school as you need the pathetically small amount of money they will bring in. One boy (now sponsored) helped a farmer with his cows for the equivalent of £1.50 per month. In this situation, children are missing a huge amount of school. Life is hard and it is certainly not fair.

Some girls are at risk of being married off too young as child brides, despite this being illegal. Their families don’t want this, the girls don’t want this but their families cannot afford to feed all their children. What a desperate situation to be in.

My youngest son needed some new t-shirts and a waterproof jacket as he has grown. We don’t have an endless pot of money but I was able to order the clothes he needed. Imagine your children have one set of clothes and they grow? These families cannot afford to buy new clothes. Children have been wearing rags.

Thanks to your help and support, The Foundation is able to feed these children once a week and you have donated clothes and shoes. You’ve also generously donated stationery and books to help with the children’s education. Then there are the 90 children who are sponsored who have a monthly food parcel and their secondary education paid for them by their generous sponsors. There are lots more children needing a helping hand and a sponsor.

So what I am trying to say is that, as a team, together we are Changing Lives (in) Malawi. However, we need more people to help more people. Here are some ways you could help;

  1. Fundraising – can you do a sponsored event for us like The Kiltwalk or something else? I will help with sharing posts on social media to get more sponsors.
  2. Fundraising – can you organise an event in your community? Whether a quiz, a table top sale or a coffee morning or a carwash? Or what else? All these type of events help spread awareness of our charity to a new audience.
  3. Fundraising – could you organise a raffle, whether online or at an event?
  4. Fundraising – are you part of a church or club that you could invite us to speak at and show photos?
  5. Sponsoring – could you sponsor a week of the feeding programme or raise £100 to sponsor one meal for 500 children?
  6. Sponsoring – could you sponsor a child or young person. It’s only £25 per month.
  7. Donate – could you make a one off or regular donation towards the feeding programme or support another one of the programmes?
  8. Sign up to receive the blogs to receive up to date information.
  9. Share our posts to reach a wider audience please and talk to family and friends about what we do.
  10. Are you doing your Duke of Edinburgh Award or another volunteering activity? Do you want to add some volunteering to your CV? What could you do to raise funds or awareness for the children in Malawi?
  11. Any other ideas you have – please get in touch. As the saying goes ‘every little helps’. We cannot do this on our own. The hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children need you.
  12. WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY? EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING. WE NEED YOU. THE HUNDREDS OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY NEED YOU. PLEASE HELP US CONTINUE CHANGING LIVES MALAWI.

contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you, Sarah x

Meaningful Cards & Gifts

Sarah’s blog 9/12/21

Whether you’ve got gifts to post, cards to send, something to buy for the person who has everything… then stop relax… we can help you and you can help us… hassle free.

https://www.dontsendmeacard.com/ecards/charities/changing-lives-malawi

That’s the link where you can find e-cards and e-gifts to purchase. Christmas cards and for other occasions. Also you can send one card to multiple people, saving time and effort. Meaningful gifts. Gifts that are going to change lives. A blanket for a vulnerable child, a football to help children take their mind off their problems whilst they play, soap, fruit tree saplings… we have lots of gifts to choose from. It would mean so much if you could support us to support the hundreds of orphans and other vulnerable children in Northern Malawi. Whether you want to spend £5 or £50 you will be helping us http://www.changinglivesmalawi.com thank you for reading and please ask if you would like any help selecting cards and gifts. Gifts can also be printed out and posted in a lovely card on your behalf. Sarah x

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