Advent Calendar – highlighting projects & children – day 5

I’ve chosen education again for December 5th as it is a core project and something we all feel very strongly about. Thanks to grants and donations from our supporters, Bright Futures Secondary School was opened in November 22.

Currently, there are three classes S1, S2 and S3. In September 2024 there will also be an S4 class. When there are four classes there will need to be several more teachers employed at the school. Therefore, next year’s running costs will be significantly more than this year’s.

One way that the school is planning to be more self-sufficient and have some income to be able to buy their own exercise books, science equipment and money towards trips etc is to set up a Pig Project. Agricultural classes are part of the core curriculum and particularly S2 have a topic on keeping pigs. Future piglets can be sold; the income will be for the school and the students will have practical experience which will be invaluable in the future. Quality education will be the key to a better and brighter future for these students with choices and chances. If you would like to buy a piglet as a Christmas gift for the person who has everything it only costs £45. Thank you for your support, Sarah x

Advent Calendar – highlighting projects & children – day 4

Sarah’s blog 4/12/23

Today, 4th December we are highlighting food poverty and our feeding programme. I know I do go on about feeding children and education but it’s something I’m passionate about. So here are a few facts to read and we really would appreciate any help you can give.

  1. Did you know that there are no big charities feeding children in schools in the area we are supporting in the rural far north of Malawi?
  2. We send money to feed 500 orphans and other vulnerable children once a week. That’s all we can afford.
  3. This feeding programme was just intended for malnourished children in the immediate area, however word spread and the need is so great that some children will walk up to 20km for this one nutritious meal of the week.
  4. Teachers at Chambo Primary School have noticed an improvement in the concentration of these children even from one meal per week. Imagine if we could feed them more?
  5. Food prices are going up all the time and food is getting more scarce now the rainy season has started.
  6. Children are taught how to grow crops as agriculture lessons are a core subject on the curriculum, and important life skills to learn.
  7. Maize, sweet potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables are grown to be used to feed the children. However, these do not last long for 500 hungry children.
  8. Fruit tree saplings were planted a couple of years ago. Some bushes had fruit for the first time this year. However, the nursery children were so hungry that they picked the fruit and ate it. We have sent money to plant more fruit tree saplings now the rains are starting. This will provide much needed food and an income in the future and will, of course, also help the planet.
  9. Children in the nursery are fed 5 times a week.
  10. Students at Bright Futures Secondary School are fed 5 times a week.

Please will you help us as the situation is serious. Children are malnourished and hungry. Can you donate money for food please? or commit to £5 or £10 p/m towards the feeding programme. Thank you, Sarah x

Advent Calendar – highlighting projects & children – day 3

Sarah’s blog 3/12/23

On day 3 of our advent calendar we are highlighting education. Secondary education needs to be paid for in Malawi. Did you know that all of the students at Bright Futures Secondary School would not have been able to attend secondary school without support? Their education wouldn’t have gone past primary school. Even if they had passed their primary school leavers exams they would not be able to attend secondary school because they are so poor. Also, the nearest secondary school did not have enough spaces. All these students have missed chunks of education whilst at primary school so they could work for a pittance to try to buy food. They are all older because of that. The older they are, the more vulnerable and poor they are.

Thanks to our supporters and some generous grants, Bright Futures Secondary School was built. At the moment, class sizes are small because we cannot afford any more free places. However, every new sponsor matched with a young person ensures a brighter future for that vulnerable teenager. Education is their way out of extreme poverty. Being a sponsor only costs £25 per month. You can sponsor as an individual or a family or two friends can share the cost.

Students at Bright Futures Secondary School receive a cooked free school lunch each day. This is the only proper meal these young people eat every day, so it is vital for their wellbeing as well as being able to concentrate on their lessons. Could you support us with the cost of feeding the students please? Several people, committing £5 or £10 per month to ensure there is enough food for these teenagers each day will make a big difference.

We were delighted that all S2 students passed their national exams in the summer. The fact that Bright Futures Secondary School had only opened in November 2022, it was an amazing achievement that the whole class passed. This story was even picked up by the national news, putting Bright Futures Secondary School well and truly on the map.

As part of our School Literacy Project, we are gifting books to the preschool children and putting boxes of books into local primary schools to raise attainment and help children be more confident readers. How can children learn to read properly if they don’t have books to practice with? Hopefully, we will start seeing the benefits of this project in the next few years as exam grades continue to rise.

Obviously, if primary school children were receiving food every day then this would make a huge difference too. Unfortunately, we can only afford to feed 500 once a week, with some children walking up to 20km to receive this nutritious cooked meal. Due to food scarcity, their currency being devalued again and prices continuing to rise, it is expected that the number of children attending this weekly feeding programme might increase to approximately 700 children. No big charities are feeding children in the rural far north and we cannot do this on our own without your support. Please help?

Please help us to support the children. Education is their way out of poverty. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Advent Calendar – highlighting projects & children – day 1

Sarah’s blog 01/12/23

It’s December already! This year has gone so quickly! As we approach Christmas Day, I am going to take this opportunity to highlight some of the projects we are supporting and also some of the vulnerable children and young people who are benefitting from our support.

Of course, we can’t do what we do without your support – it’s teamwork! Thank you so much to everyone who helps and supports our charity. Together we can continue to change lives and help the young people have a brighter future. So, if you are able, we would appreciate, if you could spare a few ££ to help us continue feeding 500 children once a week and also supporting the start up of some sustainable projects. All our projects have The Sustainable Development Goals in mind.

Today, on 1st December we are highlighting the need for clean water. Children at the Foundation have clean water to drink and wash their hands. Also Chambo Primary School now have clean water on site, thanks to a recent grant we applied for. In this photo which is one of my favourites and a couple of years old now, Josephine Nyondo and her nursery friends, tried the new tap for the first time. It was such a special moment for them being able to drink clean water straight from the tap and wash their hands. #SDG6 Clean Water & Sanitation

I hope you enjoy looking at these photos as we countdown to Christmas and, if you would like to help us, we would be very grateful for your help. Thanks, Sarah x

Teachers’ Accommodation

Sarah’s blog 29/11/23

Thanks to the grant we received from The Clive Richards Foundation, work is progressing well on the new teachers’ accommodation block. We are hopeful that it will be finished very soon and the builders are working hard. There will be lots more photos to follow but you can see the block with rooms for four teachers taking shape.

Here are some photos and links to previous blogs. Also, here is the link to our new fundraiser to support self-sufficiency and sustainable projects for the young people we support. Giving for a Sustainable Future The next building at BFSS Staff Accommodation

Giving for a Sustainable Future

Sarah’s blog 27/11/23

Tomorrow (Tuesday 28/11/23) is known as Giving Tuesday. It started in America, being the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving Weekend. People began donating money, time or talent to charities and other good causes as a way of giving and being thankful for what they had in their lives. Giving Tuesday has grown over the years and is now a recognised day of giving to good causes.

So, this leads me onto our new fundraiser and hoping that you might give to our charity and the good causes we are supporting. Costs keep rising in Malawi and food is becoming more scarce. Hundreds of children are relying on us to feed them a substantial, nutritious meal once a week. That isn’t enough, but it’s all we can do until we can get others partnering with us to provide more.

Food – Please can you help us to keep feeding 500 orphans and other vulnerable children each week? A one off donation would be really helpful or you could set up a monthly donation of £5 or £10 if you’d prefer.

Fruit Trees – We want the community we support to be self-sufficient. They want that too. Can you please help us? Fruit tree saplings have already been planted a couple of years ago and we want to plant more. This will provide future food for the orphans and other vulnerable children as well as some fruit being sold and bringing in an income. Planting trees and bushes also helps prevent soil erosion during the heavy rains and is good for the planet. Four fruit tree saplings cost £10. Will you support this project please? If you would like to give this as an alternative gift at Christmas or for someone’s birthday then please let me know and I can send a gift card on your behalf.

Pig Project – At Bright Futures Secondary School Agricultural Lessons are part of the core curriculum. The second year students, along with their teacher, are setting up a Pig Project where they will learn to care for and breed pigs. Some of the future piglets will be given to vulnerable people in the community and some piglets will be sold. This income will go back into making the school self-sufficient as they will be able to purchase exercise books and other equipment they need. A piglet costs £45 to purchase. Would you like to buy a piglet? This could make a good alternative gift to buy for the person who has everything! I can send a gift card on your behalf stating what you have bought.

Sewing – We sent some hand turn sewing machines to Malawi and some of the older girls who have left school have been learning how to make reusable sanitary towels for all who needed them, ensuring all girls do not miss a week of school each month and, therefore, are receiving the same amount of schooling as the boys. Now, we would like to set up two or three of these girls in business so they can start making school dresses and other clothes to sell. Would you like to ensure these girls have a sustainable and better future? £50 will buy fabric that they need. I can send a gift card if you decide to buy this as an alternative Christmas gift.

Education – Secondary Education in Malawi needs to be paid for. All of the young people at Bright Futures Secondary School would not have been able to afford to continue their education without help and support. Could you pay for a student to attend school for a month please? It costs £25. Or you could become a sponsor to a student for £25 p/m. These vulnerable young people, many of whom are orphans, deserve a better and brighter future. If you would like to pay for this option as part of an alternative Christmas gift, please do let me know and I can send a card to the recipient on your behalf.

As you can see, we cannot do this alone. It is always about teamwork. Please will you join our team to help support these children as we work towards a sustainable and self-sufficient future for them? They deserve every opportunity to be the best they can be. They deserve choices and chances. They deserve to know they are important and that people care about them. If you would like to support one of the above projects in particular then please do put that project against your name when making a donation, otherwise we will allocate funding between the projects. Many thanks for your continued support. Together we can make a difference and continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks, Sarah x Donate here:

Feeding some of the vulnerable children once a week

Students at Bright Futures Secondary School planting sweet potatoes as part of their agricultural lessons

Exam time at Bright Futures Secondary School

Giving Tuesday Logo

We keep the Sustainable Development Goals in mind for all of our projects

World Toilet Day

Sarah’s blog 19/11/23

Did you know it was World Toilet Day? Imagine a day to be thankful for having a toilet! A toilet is just one of the things we take for granted. Every home has at least one toilet. And a sink to wash your hands with running water and soap. When we go out, we know where there is a toilet available for use, again with water to wash our hands.

The children and young people in Malawi do not have the luxury of toilets. They have to go in the nearby bushes. There is no clean water or soap to wash their hands. Disease can spread quickly because of lack of sanitation. Also, imagine being a teenage girl with no proper toilet facilities. No dignity, no privacy and also the worry of being vulnerable to attack on your own in the bushes.

We are trying our best to improve their situation. There are latrine blocks at The Foundation, they were one of the first things to be built. Plus a teachers’ latrine block was added. With the help of our supporters, we have some money raised for more latrine blocks for teenagers at Bright Futures Secondary School. However, because of constant rising costs in Malawi, we do not yet have enough money to complete these latrines.

On World Toilet Day, please think about how fortunate we are and how we take so much for granted. If you could spare £10 to help build another toilet block, we would be so grateful. or email for our bank details Your continued support is gratefully received both here and in Malawi.

We have been supporting Chambo Primary School, where most of the younger children attend, through two grants we successfully applied for. Hopefully, all will be finished next week and there will be lots of photos.

One of the grants was from The Eleanor Rathbone Trust for £1,000 which has built a latrine block at Chambo Primary School. The other grant was from The Kitchen Table Charities Trust for £6,000, part of which has been used to bring clean water for drinking and washing hands to Chambo Primary School. At school; clean drinking water, the privacy, dignity and hygiene of a toilet block , and clean water and soap to wash their hands. Life is changing for the better for these very vulnerable children. We will continue, with your help, Changing Lives (in) Malawi. Thanks so much and please do help if you can, Sarah x

The new toilet block at Chambo Primary School is almost finished. Thanks to The Eleanor Rathbone Trust for the grant of £1,000.

Staff Accommodation

Sarah’s blog 7/11/23

Thanks to the grant we received from The Clive Richards Foundation, there will shortly be a new staff accommodation block for 4 teachers. As the area has so much poverty, there are no suitable houses for teacher’s to rent so on campus accommodation is vital to attract good teachers to Bright Futures Secondary School.

Some bricks have been bought and some have been made and are about to be fired. The ground has been cleared and the digging of foundations has been completed ready for the actual building work to start. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before this building is finished.

In the meantime, here are some photos of progress so far. We still have a shortfall in the funding we require for the new latrines for the students at Bright Futures Secondary School, so any financial support would be very much appreciated Enjoy the photos and I’ll post another update soon. Thanks, Sarah x

The next building at BFSS (link to previous post about staff accommodation)

Fundraising Packs of Cards

Sarah’s blog 30/10/23

On Saturday morning, I attended a Christmas Card Sale & Coffee Morning at The Kirkrooms, Strathblane. It’s always a great event and lovely to catch up with people and have a chat. I had a selection of packs of cards for sale and, thanks to everyone who bought them, made £184.50 for Changing Lives Malawi.

These cards are taken from original paintings by my mum, Christine Cresswell, who is a very talented artist. She has generously gifted these cards to our charity so all the money from sales will go towards building the new latrine blocks. Some of the original paintings are for sale so let me know if you see something you like.

Each pack contains 8 cards of the same design, blank for your own message and they are £5 each plus £2.50 p&p. (if you purchase multiple packs then we can combine postage amounts). Perfect for sending or giving the whole pack as a gift.

Here are the selection of cards available, email us to order on

Shoes, Desks & a Microscope

Sarah’s blog 24/10/23

It’s a bit of a photo dump today! There is so much going on that it’s not easy to get photos of everything that is happening. Yesterday, S3 students at Bright Futures Secondary School were able to choose new shoes from the boxes of preloved shoes that kindly donated to us to send to the teenage students. So there were lots of happy young people yesterday receiving new shoes to protect their feet whilst walking to and from school. Thanks to Sal’s Shoes and to all the people who donated preloved shoes to them.

We’d had a donation of money to be used to make desks for classroom 3. The donor wishes to remain anonymous but we are very grateful and thankful for this donation and the difference it is making. Levison was able to take some photos yesterday and you can see that the young people have a great learning environment. Thank you. We have preloved chairs and tables that we had kindly been offered going on the next container for classroom 4. If anyone would like to help towards the cost of transporting these then please do get in touch

When Levison was at Bright Futures Secondary School yesterday, the S1 class were having a science lesson. He managed to get some photos of them using the new microscope that we sent. It’s so good to see these vulnerable teenagers having the opportunities they deserve and a good quality education. We do need sponsors to support more students to have a place at Bright Futures Secondary School so if you are able to commit to changing the life of a young person through education then please do contact us. It only costs £25 per month and you could share that cost with a friend. Or could you commit £5/£10 per month to ensure students have a nutritious, cooked school lunch each day. For many this is their only meal of the day.

Thank you for your continued support. We are still collecting school uniform and shoes and also thin rain jackets if anyone would like to help. Also, any scientific calculators, maths sets or kindles that are still in good working order. If anyone has another microscope or STEM resources (science, technology, engineering, maths) that their children have grown out of eg snap circuits, meccano, magnets, etc please do get in touch to see if we are able to make use of them. Thanks and enjoy the photos, Sarah x

The next building at BFSS

Sarah’s blog 19/10/23

As we grow, there seems to be more to do! Bright Futures Secondary School is doing well and we were so thankful that classrooms 3 and 4 were finished in time for the new term starting last month. Classroom 4 is currently being used as a staffroom and for teaching skills for life classes, until it will be needed for a classroom next year when there will be another intake of pupils meaning there will be classes 1-4 next year.

This means we will need to build another staffroom by next September. Also, more teachers will need to be employed by next September. As the village is so rural and people are living in extreme poverty, there is no suitable accommodation available for teachers to rent. There is already some accommodation on campus for the current teachers but more needs to be built.

We were fortunate to receive a grant from The Clive Richards Foundation for staff accommodation and latrines for which we are very grateful. Levison has negotiated with local land owners and we have bought two pieces of land for The Foundation which will extend the Bright Future Secondary School Campus. One of these pieces of land is for teachers accommodation.

Land clearing has started and the builders will be arriving soon to start on the foundations and the building should be finished next month. You can see from the attached photos that there have been lots of shrubs and some quite big rocks and stones to move….all by hand. There has been another fuel shortage which has delayed purchasing items needed for the building but, thankfully, they got fuel yesterday afternoon. However, because of prices rising, fuel shortages and strikes, they are going to have to travel 50km into Tanzania to purchase cement then 50km back home again….adding to time and fuel costs. Nothing is straightforward.

On the second piece of land it is hoped that dormitories will be able to be built but, as with everything, it is dependent on finances. We would be delighted if anyone would like to make a donation towards either a second teachers accommodation block or dormitories. You could have your name, the name of a loved one or your company or club name over a door or on a building!

One block of 4 motel style rooms with verandas will be built before the rainy season starts in the next few weeks plus more latrines will be built for the staff and students. We will need to raise more funds for a second block of 4 teachers’ accommodation that can be built after the rainy season. Great progress is being made but fundraising must continue to ensure that Bright Futures Secondary School continues to grow and thrive for the vulnerable teenagers and the community.

Money is always on our minds as we don’t have any big reserves. We are volunteers and so we have no overheads and all money donated goes to the projects we help to support. We rely on donations and fundraising and the occasional successful grant application. That is why we always talk about teamwork…we are only a small part of helping to make a difference. We need your help too!

The more teenagers we can match with sponsors, then the more vulnerable orphans will benefit from free good quality secondary education at Bright Futures Secondary School. So can you help an orphan have a brighter future with a secondary education? It costs £25 p/m to sponsor a young person and this includes a nutritious school lunch each day.

For many, this is their only food each day which is why it is so important to us that they have free food at lunchtime each day. How can they be expected to study and concentrate on their lessons if they have no energy, are hungry and malnourished? How can they be expected to sleep at night if they are lying awake with hunger pains. We take a holistic approach to helping these young people and their families back to being self-sufficient and having a sustainable future.

We keep the UN Sustainable Goals in mind for all of our projects. #SDG1 – no poverty, #SDG2 – no hunger, #SDG3 – good health & welbeing, #SGD4 – quality education, #SDG6 – clean water & sanitation, #SGD8 – decent work & economic growth, #SDG11 – sustainable communities to name a few!!

Or could you commit £5 or £10 p/m to help us provide nutritious school lunches? Food prices keep going up and the crops they are growing just aren’t enough. You could help us ensure that no young person at Bright Futures Secondary School is suffering from malnutrition.

I look forward to bringing you more photos during the coming weeks and, again, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who supports our work, Sarah x

Cards, Paintings & other ways to help us

Sarah’s blog 09/10/23

We are really fortunate to have Christine Cresswell as one of our trustees. Christine is a talented artist and donates the proceeds of her artwork to our charity to help fund the projects we support in Malawi. I will do another separate post with a selection of paintings soon.

As well as being a talented artist, Christine is also my mum. We have had cards printed from some of her beautiful paintings. I have spent a couple of hours at mum and dad’s dining table today. Dad was tasked with counting cards, mum was counting envelopes and I was putting the two together in cellophane bags.

These cards are blank inside so are suitable for any occasion, or a pack could be given as a gift. They are a bargain at £5 per pack of 8 cards (same design) plus p& p of £2.50 per pack. (I can check postage rates for multiple purchases).

My parents also, very generously, paid for the printing of these cards, so every penny from the sale of each pack will be going towards the projects we help to support. if you would like to order some cards.

If you prefer to send e-cards then click on this link to support us

You can also raise funds for us every time you shop online by going through the Easy Fundraising site

Or why not host a fundraising event for us or take part in a sponsored activity? As we are volunteers, 100% of donations go to our projects.

Thanks for reading and supporting Changing Lives Malawi, Sarah x