Preloved Books – The Gift of Literacy

Sarah’s blog 20/5/22

If children don’t have access to books…how can they learn to read? It’s a miracle that the orphans and other vulnerable children supported by The Foundation can read at all. They are all amazing and are desperate to learn.

In developed countries, books are available for babies at just a few months old. Care givers are encouraged to sit babies on their knees and look at books with them. Children learn from a very early age that a book means a story. Preschool children learn books contains bright pictures. They learn that books have pages that are turned one after the other. They then pretend to follow the words with their fingers, so even then they know that the words tell a story and give information.

Then there is all the environmental print that we have. Most children before they can read will be able to recognise the golden arches of a burger chain or the label from their favourite yogurt or snack or the sign at the local supermarket.

What if all of this was missing from children’s lives? So by the time they arrived at school they had not had all these experiences and practice. The children in Malawi don’t have the luxury either of scribbling and mark making on paper with different pens and pencils. So how are they expected to learn to hold a pencil and write properly too. They have been at such a disadvantage.

Whilst we can’t provide for everyone and give each child an endless stock of paper and pens….we are making a difference….we are changing lives. You are helping us in a variety of ways and we couldn’t do what we do without you.

  1. Seventeen boxes of children’s books have already been gifted to Chambo Primary School for the children to have access to a whole new world through reading stories. There are a variety of books going from preschool with lots of bright pictures and not many words to Harry Potter, encyclopedias, dictionaries and maps. Every person who has donated a book to us has given a child the gift of literacy.
  2. There are more books on their way for another school and we will keep going until all children in that area have been given the gift of literacy. As soon as Levison had delivered the 17 boxes of books to Chambo primary school, and I had put a post on social media about it, his phone started ringing from teachers at other schools asking for books too. Everyone is desperate to help the children have a better education.
  3. You have helped us supply books to Emma’s Rainbow Library at The Foundation. Book shelves were made along the length of a wall, using a donation we had been given. Now they have a good selection of books for all ages, including study books. More are on the way.
  4. The nursery, for 75 of the most vulnerable 4 – 6 year olds, has a basket of story books for younger children and there are more on the way. We are now making up care packages for children starting nursery, so we know that each child has received; a gym bag, 2 red t-shirts (nursery uniform), 2 pairs of pants, a blanket, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste and a story book with lots of bright pictures. Eventually, almost every home will have one or two books. Hopefully, the adults can look at the books with the nursery children.
  5. Eventually, we want to be able to fund a member of staff to support adult literacy classes.
  6. Today, my husband, Stuart, collected 5 bags for life and one big box from a local nursery. Arnprior Nursery had received a grant for new books and they no longer needed all these ones. What a brilliant way of recycling these preloved books. Instead of them being thrown out or sold for a few pence, the gift of literacy is being given to vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi. Thank you to the staff at Arnprior Nursery for this amazing donation that will help so many children.
  7. We are hoping to see literacy levels increase as time goes on. Already one little girl, Melise, who is 5 has been allowed to go to school a year early as she has been described as being very bright. Her brother, Mwiza, is disabled and has been given lots of picture books and toys to help stimulate him. Is she going to school a year early because she has been able to look at her brother’s books? I’m really keen to see how literacy levels start to rise.
  8. Together we are Changing Lives Malawi and we need you all to keep helping us. This is a relatively cheap way to change the children’s lives. The books have been donated. It’s £15 to send each box on the container. If anyone would like to sponsor this literacy project or pay for a box then please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Just some of the books generously donated by Arnprior Nursery to our School Literacy Programme

Melise who is attending school a year early. Her brother, Mwiza, has disabilites and cannot attend school. He has been sent lots of books and toys. Melise has been able to look at her brother’s books so has this given her an advantage over her peers?

One of the boxes of books had been opened for the children. As you can see there are no desks or chairs and, until this donation, hardly any books.
Boxes of books at Chambo Primary School – The gift of reading – The School Literacy Project

Each child deserves a chance

Sarah’s blog 6/4/22

These amazing children need a helping hand to reach their potential. To be the best they can be. Isn’t that what we all want for our children? Each of these children suffers from malnutrition. They need more food, clothes, education. Can you be a helping hand for one of these children? It’s only £25 p/m to sponsor a child. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com please look at each photo and help a child today. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Some of the most vulnerable children

These are the most vulnerable children and most in need of a sponsor. Can you be a helping hand to one of these children?

Sarah’s blog 5/4/22

I wanted to highlight some of the orphans and vulnerable children that Levison has taken photos of previously. He’s done this as they are some of the most vulnerable and most in need of a sponsor. It’s only £25 per month to sponsor a child and you can do that as an individual, a group or two friends. 85p per day will mean the world to these children.

I’ve highlighted each child with a coloured background because I think they deserve to be seen. They deserve to have the same chances our children have. They deserve to have food, clothes, education. They deserve to reach their potential. They deserve to have a helping hand. They deserve to know that someone cares.

Please…can you be a helping hand to one of these children? It might be one of the most important things you ever do. It might be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thank you for reading and I hope to hear from some of you and match you with a child. Sarah x

This year’s S3 and S4 students

Sarah’s blog 30/3/22

Here are the thoughts of Angela, Naomi, Chancy and Tamiwe. Education features in most of the young people’s answers to the questions they’ve been asked and it’s interesting that the majority want to be able to help others who are in similar situations to themselves. Hopefully, because of the generosity of their sponsors, they will then pay that forward as adults by providing a helping hand to the vulnerable in their community. Thank you to the sponsors for enabling these young people to have the gift of education. Unfortunately, Angela wasn’t there on the day photos were being taken but we will get another photo of her soon. If you can help us with fundraising, a financial donation or would like to sponsor a young person for £25 per month then email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

This year’s S2 students

Sarah’s blog 30/03/22

Yesterday we had an update from the new S1 students so now it’s the turn of those in S2. It’s lovely to see photos of them and to hear their views via answering a few questions. If you are a sponsor then a big THANK YOU as you are making such a difference to the young person you sponsor. You are giving them new opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had. You are giving them the gift of education. Their self-esteem is growing because of you. Thank you so much. Hope you enjoy the photos and writing. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Video – Nursery Children ABC

Sarah’s blog 15/3/22

Now that we have the added bonus of being able to play videos on our website, I thought it would be nice to see this little video again that was previously shown on facebook. Tables and chairs were sent on the last container and this is the children from the nursery in Emma’s Rainbow Library.

These children (ages 4-6) are sitting at tables for the first time and have been given books to look at. Compared to our children they have missed out on lots of stages of pre literacy; sitting on an adult’s knee as a baby whilst an adult reads a story, learning whilst a toddler to turn the pages of a book to continue the story, looking at all the pictures and talking about that with the adult or pointing to items in the pictures. Then children usually will follow the text with their index finger, even though they aren’t at the right word they know by that stage that words go left to right and that the words make up the story.

Hopefully, now there are books in the library the children will have lots of opportunities to look at books and have stories read to them. There are nursery bags on the container that is about to leave Dundee next week that will be given to each child who starts at The Foundation Nursery. These bags contain; a blanket, two red t-shirts, 2 pairs of pants, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap and a picture book. Each child will then have a book at their home and books and reading will become more of an everyday part of life. Enjoy the video, Sarah x

Another busy day at Changing Lives Malawi HQ

Sarah’s blog 6/2/22

When I say HQ I mean our house lol… we certainly aren’t a big enough charity for separate premises..and we have no employees…only volunteers. Luckily we have a very large shed in the garden where donations go until we start with boxing them up again and filling the car with enough boxes to go to Dundee to The Bananabox Trust warehouse to await the next container. Today and tomorrow are boxing up days. Yesterday, someone brought some lovely hats and some wool, there was also a donation of toothbrushes and pencils and someone else contacted me about children’s books. It’s so good that people are thinking about the children, getting involved and supporting our work.

I’m trying to find a sponsor for a year three girl in secondary school whose family can no longer pay her fees. Her name is Angela and I hope to have more details soon and a photo. She needs a sponsor for 2 years to help her stay in school and give her the security of knowing that she’s not constantly worrying about the next fees being due. Sponsoring a young person is just £25 per month.

It’s on our minds all the time about trying to involve more people in supporting the feeding programme. If more people are able to commit to £5 p/m to help feed the children then they will be able to have more than one meal a week at the Feeding Programme which feeds 500 malnourished children once a week. They receive a substantial, nutritious meal but we would love to be able to support an additional meal or a cup of porridge before school. How can children concentrate on learning if they are hungry? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com

One of our other trustees is currently exploring the idea of using the round metal sections of old trampolines to send to Malawi to use as the structure for polytunnels to help with food production at The Foundation. After the recent storms, I’m sure he will get a few donations to recycle!

At Dundee, there are boxes ready for the container that we’ve made up for young people going to secondary school next year. Each box has supplies for two students and they will each receive a blanket, sheet, towel, wind up torch, a school bag, calculator, dictionary, stationery, soap and toothbrush and toothpaste. Levison will still have things to buy for the young people going to school, but it will help him a lot having boxes already made up to gift to the students.

Now I’m looking at making up care packages for the nursery children. There is a nursery at The Foundation for 50 children and it meets 3 times a week, supported by donations. The children are aged 4-6 and they are fed at each session. They’ve had uniform and blankets recently gifted to them but it would be lovely if each child starting nursery was given a bag with a few useful gifts in. So from now on, every child starting at The Foundation nursery will receive a drawstring bag containing; 2 red tshirts, 3 pairs of pants, a blanket, a picture book, soap and toothbrush and toothpaste. That way we will know that every child will have been gifted a blanket…. there are still lots of children that the Foundation supports who aren’t even sleeping on a mat…they are sleeping on the bare floor and covering themselves with whatever they can. Hopefully, by making small changes like this then life will keep improving for the orphans and other vulnerable children in Ibuluma.

People are very kindly starting to collect milk carton tops for us so that they can have letters or numbers written on them and be used at the Foundation nursery or at Chambo primary school which is the nearest primary school to the foundation and where 17 boxes of children’s books were delivered recently. Education is key in Changing the Lives of those in northern Malawi.

In the photo are some resources I’ve put together for Chambo Primary School to help with numeracy and literacy. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Chambo Primary School – School Literacy Project Visit 18/10/21

Sarah’s blog 18/10/21

Today Levison had arranged with the headteacher of Chambo Primary School to pay a visit. Levison was delivering 17 boxes of books that we had sent as part of the School Literacy Project. This is a project that has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children living in extreme poverty.

Chambo Primary is the primary school nearest The William Stewart Foundation, Ibuluma Village in the Chitipa District of Northern Malawi. There are 8 classes in this school with 70-80 children in each class. Approximately half of them are children supported by The William Stewart Foundation, so today was very much about those children as well as their peers.

Imagine, as a teacher, not having the resources you need for your class (I know most teachers here dip into their own pocket to buy extra resources for our children, but this goes way beyond that). Imagine not having books at school. Imagine having no internet and computers. I can just about remember that but our children will never have been in a school without technology. Imagine not having desks and chairs and having to sit on the floor all day. Only one classroom at Chambo Primary School has desks and benches.

Literacy starts a long time before children go to school. Even babies look at picture books with their parents and grandparents. Toddlers know that the story continues by turning the pages in a book and that the pictures tell the story as well as the words and they follow the words with their fingers even though they aren’t reading. Children can recognise environmental print (think of them spotting their favourite fast food restaurant as you are driving past) but the children in Ibuluma have missed out on that also. So if there are no books in these children’s homes they have missed out on years of literacy and enjoying books before they even get to school.

When our children go to school they practice reading and writing every single day, even if it’s only a small amount of time. Paper is plentiful as is the choice of books. Most children will have books to take home to practise their reading. Not the children from Chambo Primary School, Ibuluma. Until today. Now 17 boxes of books have been delivered, along with strong ziplock plastic bags to protect the books. Children can now borrow these books to take home. Hopefully, they can read their books with their siblings. We want books to become an every day item….a very special and enjoyable item….but to be used every day. These children deserve our support and we want to thank every single person who has helped with the first delivery of this project. We are going to liaise with the headteacher and see how this project is getting on and if there is more we can do to support them. We want children to achieve as education is so important for them to be able to have brighter futures.

We estimate this project was about £350 – £400 to deliver. It didn’t cost us that much as we had many people donating the bags as well as the hundreds of beautiful books. Also some people were able to donate the £15 required to transport a box of books on the container. We think this project is £400 very well spent and we thank everyone who contributed. What we do is always about teamwork and if you’ve been part of this team then be proud as you are #changinglivesmalawi Get in touch if you’d like to help us. Enjoy the photos and thank you for reading and celebrating this success with us. Sarah x

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