Sisters – Naomi & Modester

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.

Children’s Education

Sarah’s blog 8/8/22

In Malawi, children in their last year of primary school and in the second year of secondary school, have all been busy with exams. The fourth year of secondary school will sit exams in October. Just like for our children, it’s a stressful time and a lot of pressure for the young people.

However, unlike most of our children, the children supported by The Foundation, have faced huge trauma. Most children have had family members who have passed away. Children are being cared for by extended family or another family have taken them in. Even if children are still with their parents or one parent, there is not enough food coming into their homes to enable the children to eat properly every day. Some children may have one basic meal a day, others might have to go without food or try to find food themselves.

We send money to support The Feeding Programme which feeds 500+ children once a week. They get a substantial and nutritious meal. Some children walk up to 20km for that meal as there are no big agencies feeding children in schools in that area. We would love to be able to feed the children more often but costs are rising and we, along with The Foundation, are trying to work holistically, so that money is also going to future projects for the benefit of the whole community and for them to be self-sufficient.

Teachers have noticed a difference in the concentration of the children and young people who are supported by The Foundation just from that one meal a week at the Feeding Programme. Imagine the difference if they were able to have more food more often? Once the fruit tree saplings have matured and are producing fruit the children will be able to have fruit to supplement their diet.

Children have had clean clothes instead of the rags they were wearing and are attending school more regularly and their self-esteem is better. However, are they sleeping properly? Are they cold? Are hunger pains keeping them awake? Most of the children supported by The Foundation won’t have anything to eat before school. They certainly won’t have anything to eat during school…if they are lucky they may have something once they get home. Sponsored children receive a monthly food parcel to supplement the food in their homes. All children are malnourished to different extents. Some children have stunted growth due to lack of food and nutrients in their early life. All 500+ children need our help.

The nursery has been set up for preschool children three times a week. It was intended for 50 children but now 75 children attend. They are fed at each session. There is some porridge provided by Feed The Children, for which we are grateful, but it doesn’t last long so we are supporting feeding these hungry children. These preschool children still aren’t having enough food and nutrition but what they are getting is more than the older children. Year on year the children should have better nutrition. We also want to be helping expectant mothers, babies and toddlers.

I’m typing as the thoughts are coming into my head so I am sorry if this isn’t flowing as well as it should, but the children’s wellbeing is very important to me and I have so many ideas sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my brain!

So are we expecting too much from these vulnerable children and young people who are doing exams? Would we send our children into an exam without breakfast? Imagine if a child hadn’t been eating enough for a long period of time…how can they learn if they are hungry and tired? Basic needs have to be met first before children can start thinking about anything else. Have they slept properly on the ground in their very basic home? Unless they are sponsored, they don’t have a torch to do homework after 6pm when it gets dark each day. What about the trauma of people they love passing away? Girls had been missing out on school for one week every month until the Period Poverty Project was established. Some children had missed lots of school to try to earn a pittance to buy food.

The odds of achieving had been stacked against them. But things are changing. As long as the children are trying their best then that’s all we can ask of them or expect of them. Whether they pass exams or they don’t, they will have learned more being in school than out of school, also they are safer in school and there is less risk of teenage pregnancy and girls being married off too soon. Their literacy skills and numeracy skills will be better than if they hadn’t attended school. These skills will help the young people in future whatever they do. These children are doing brilliantly to do what they do each day, to learn at school. In the local primary, apart from year 8 all the children are sitting on the floor. Another issue we want to address when we can.

What I am trying to say is that the orphans and other vulnerable children, whether at primary school or at secondary school have had a very tough life so far and have missed out on some of the basics that every child should have. Hopefully, because we are introducing books in the nursery, library and primary schools and because children are having more nutrition, we should see literacy levels rise each year and children achieving better results in their exams. But, just like anywhere in the world, not all children are academic and so they should be supported to learn a trade or whatever they want to do. These children are brilliant. They are resilient. They are survivors. We are proud of each and every one of them. They will have brighter futures with a team supporting them at The Foundation.

We are looking to partner with businesses, clubs, families or individuals who will commit to a monthly donation towards the feeding programme. We have a few people already helping us with this and we’d love more people to help and share the costs so that these children can have at least two decent meals each week. We sent money for fruit tree saplings and we want to send more money so this is a future source of food and a source of income. If you would like to support the feeding programme with a monthly donation then please email me at contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . We will continue making a difference with your help and we will continue Changing Lives Malawi. Thanks for reading and supporting the children, Sarah x

Children in a classroom at Chambo Primary looking at the books that the school had just been gifted as part of The School Literacy Project.
These three photos are from approximately three years ago but I think they are very powerful. 1.Little children enjoying their meal at the Feeding Programme. 2.Volunteers & some older girls preparing food for all the children. 3. A big sister delighted to have something to feed her baby sister…they had both just become orphans.
The children in nursery have received new clothes and flipflops. They were also sent a preloved trainset. It was all put in the middle of the floor and the children were observed working out what to do with the pieces and the trains…it didn’t take them long, despite never having seen a trainset before!

Bright Futures Secondary School

Sarah’s blog 1/8/22

I just wanted to do an update on where we are with this exciting project that is going to give a brighter future to hundreds, if not thousands, of young people in rural northern Malawi, changing their lives for the better by giving them the gift of education.

Secondary schools in Malawi charge fees, so those who cannot afford the fees just do not go to secondary school. However, because there are not enough places at secondary schools in that area, even if the children have passed their primary school leavers exams and have the money to pay for secondary school, if they don’t get picked for a place then they don’t go. This is unfortunately what happened to eleven of our sponsored children this year. It’s heart-breaking for them and they have been resitting their last year of primary school with the hope of getting better grades and therefore getting a place next time.

The nearest secondary school is too far away for children to walk so they have to board which then puts the costs up and also keeps them away from their families who may rely on the young people to help with chores and looking after younger siblings.

Bright Futures Secondary School will be for orphans and vulnerable young people supported by the Foundation. Those who cannot pay fees will still be offered a place at the secondary school and those who can pay a bit will be asked to contribute what they can afford. Obviously, young people will have been required to pass their primary school leavers exams before continuing with their secondary education.

There has been lots of work going on in the background, collecting school uniforms, liaising with other charities who may help us etc. There are over 100 chairs going on the next container. They have also been busy in Malawi with making bricks and they are going to be firing all the bricks soon when they’ve stacked them to make the kilns. I have got good news and bad news so I think I’ll go with the good news first….as there are lots of good things going on.

Good things are happening

  1. One of the neighbours of The Foundation is gifting some land to ensure there is enough land to build the secondary school on. That is extremely generous.
  2. We had a grant from The Souter Charitable Trust for £3,250 for secondary school text books and are very grateful for their support.
  3. Recently we had a cheque for £4,000 from The Inverclyde Trust to help towards the secondary school. This was a lovely surprise and we are so thankful.
  4. I had a fundraiser in May to start off the brickmaking for the school. People were very kind and contributed over £1,000.
  5. We have a gofundme page open for donations towards building the school. If you would like to contribute a few £££ towards the school and to support those who are doing our kilometre challenge then here is the link; https://gofund.me/44a92444
  6. There have also been some donations straight into the bank account for which we are very thankful.

The not so good news

  1. The Malawian currency has been devalued and everything has also gone up in price. Maize is double what it previously was and also the building supplies have all gone up, some being double the price that they cost in the shower block build. All this makes it extremely difficult when we think we are working towards a target then the goalposts keep changing.
  2. We had a quote over the weekend for the first phase of the secondary school. It was, because of the reasons stated above, far more than any of us imagined.
  3. Levison and The Foundation do not have any funds of their own so are reliant on our charity for fundraising. They have started to bring small amounts of money in but because of rising costs and the huge number of children and young people they are supporting, it is like they are swimming against the tide. Self-sufficiency is obviously the end goal but it is difficult when prices are rising and children are hungry.
  4. We need more people to help with fundraising and telling others about our charity.

Bright Futures Secondary School

We are very excited and committed to changing the lives of so many children. They know that education is their way to a brighter future for them and their families. They want education and they want to work hard.

Unfortunately, due to the trauma and lack of nutrition that many have faced, not all children will be able to complete secondary school but we hope that there will be jobs available and opportunities within the Foundation or for further vocational training.

However, because of the Feeding Programme, and the preschool children being fed in nursery, they have a better start than the older children. As well as food, they have access to showers and clean clothes and are already looking at picture books. The Literacy Project is very exiting as we are hoping that the results of having reading materials readily available will be seen over the next few years. Year on year, exam results should start to improve in the schools that we are supplying with books.

We had hoped that we would be able to raise enough money for the first phase of the secondary school to open in October 2022. However, we have had to make the decision that we cannot achieve that this year. We have a year to work hard and ensure all the money needed is in place for the start of term in October 2023. Whilst we are disappointed that costs have risen and we don’t have as much money as needed at the moment, we think it is sensible to be able to spend the next year ensuring that finances are in place and that the school is built properly ensuring all children have Bright Futures.

Please, if you know of any grant giving charities who could help, or any businesses willing to give a donation in return for some publicity then please do let us know. This is a huge undertaking for a small charity like ours but we are determined to continue Changing Lives. Can you do a fundraiser for us in the community where you live? Can you hold a coffee morning or a bake sale? There’s loads of ways in which you could get involved and we would love you to join us. The children are relying on us so they all have brighter futures. Please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to suggest ways of helping, or to donate to the school. Any donation over £500 can name a classroom. Thank you for reading and supporting us, Sarah x

The children need food

Sarah’s blog 20/7/22

Running a Foundation is a huge responsibility and the rural location of The Foundation adds to the pressure that Levison is under.

There are no big agencies feeding children in schools in the far north of Malawi. The responsibility has fallen to The Foundation to feed 500+ children once a week. Children are walking from up to 20km away to have that one substantial meal each week.

This is all we can afford at the moment. There are so many calls on finances as we try our best to support a community back to self-sufficiency.

The Foundation teaches life skills to the children and young people. Growing crops is part of the skills the children learn. Unfortunately the crop of maize was affected by the flooding earlier this year and part of the crop was washed away. This year’s crop will only feed the children for two months.

The price of buying maize fluctuates throughout the year depending on availability and time of year.

The Malawian Kwacha was devalued a few months ago and all prices have gone up. However, maize is more than double the price it was this time last year.

Thank you to the few people who have given £5 per month towards the feeding programme as we have been grateful for this to top up the money we send each month to feed the children.

We know that we are asking for a lot of help but the more people who know about our charity and The Foundation, the more we can spread the help we need across more supporters. So I urge you to please share our posts and also tell your friends about us and the help we need.

All of us in the U.K. are volunteers and no money is spent on admin costs as we donate our time, petrol for transporting boxes to Dundee etc. So you can be sure if you donate money for feeding children, that’s where it will go.

Please, please can you donate £5 per month towards our feeding programme? I need 20 people to commit to £5 per month to enable the children to still be fed a substantial meal each week at The Foundation.

Please, if you can, donate £5 p/m by emailing contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details. The children have come to rely on that one substantial meal each week…we can’t let them down.

Please help us continue helping the children by donating £5 per month for food. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com to help feed the 500+ vulnerable children today. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x

Some of the children having their one nutritious meal of the week.

Please will someone sponsor Brighton Ng’ambi? Please give him a chance?

Sarah’s blog 6/6/22

Brighton needs someone to take a chance on him…to change his life. How many traumatic experiences has he had in his young life? I don’t know. This is what I do know;

  1. Brighton is an orphan. Both his parents have died.
  2. Relatives are supposed to be looking after him but he is fending for himself a lot of the time.
  3. Brighton is malnourished and hungry. He told Levison that some days he eats once. Other days he has nothing and has to try and find some fruit to eat in bushes.
  4. Brighton is in his first year at primary school. How can he even concentrate at all and learn anything when he will be so tired and hungry?
  5. Brighton will be cold at night time. Does he sleep properly as he’s cold and hungry?
  6. He was dirty and dressed in rags. He had head lice. Thankfully, he was able to have a shower and given nice, clean clothes and shoes before having a nutritious lunch.

We want this little boy to be matched with a sponsor to allow him to have ‘extras’ that aren’t really extra things at all….they are essentials. Brighton needs more clothes, he needs a blanket, he needs a monthly food parcel and to be encouraged to come to the feeding programme each week. He needs someone to keep an eye on him and nurture him. Levison and his team can do all this but having a sponsor will help Brighton to feel better quicker. Being matched with a sponsor will let him know that he is important, that people care about him. Levison is a trained councillor so he can spend time with Brighton helping him. Brighton needs a team of people around him to ensure that he begins to thrive. Can you be that person? Or can you and a friend split the monthly cost of £25 to support Brighton?

Brighton is a little boy who has found himself in awful circumstances, through absolutely no fault of his own. He needs our help. Can you join Brighton’s team? Can you help this little boy? Can you help him to have something to smile about? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

Charity, a volunteer, helped Brighton to get rid of the lice in his hair
Brighton came to receive help. He had a shower and was given clean clothes and shoes. Then he had a nutritious lunch.
Brighton is a little boy in need of a sponsor. Can you join Brighton's team to help him feel loved and cared for?
Brighton received help at The Foundation. Now he desperately needs your help – will you sponsor him?

Judith needs medical help

Sarah 24/4/22

Levison sees a lot of children. To a certain extent, he must have to get used to the dire poverty these families live in, as he can’t help absolutely everyone. However, he’s sent me these photos and said he was almost crying because of how this family are struggling. Mum has a 4 month old baby (sitting on the blanket) and three other children. Dad has had to go away to find piece work and no one knows when he will come home. Matthew, John and Judith are all malnourished and all need matched with sponsors. However, poor Judith needs urgent medical attention for her eyes. She must be in pain and needs to be seen as soon as possible.

I realise I am always asking for help, but there are so many children who cannot get out of their awful situation without our help. They need your help.

So today I am asking for three people to each sponsor one of these malnourished children. It’s only 85p per day and you can sponsor as an individual, two friends, a family or a business or club. Judith also needs someone to pay for her to see a doctor. Is this something you can do to help her?

If you will help Judith and her family please email me contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com This might be the kindest thing anyone has every done for Judith. Will you help? Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x

The Munyenyembe Family (baby Miracle is on the blanket). All are malnourished and Judith needs urgent medical attention.

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

International School Meals Day – but not for all

Sarah’s blog 10/03/22

A few days ago, I found out via a message from my son’s school, that 10th March is International School Meals Day. At his school, there is a different menu choice for today which is why we received the message. I understand, from the internet, that it is a way of promoting healthy eating and having conversations about food. This is a good idea.

However, because of my passion for helping those who are the most vulnerable, once we had established what my son wants for his lunch choice today, my next thought was how many children in the world don’t ever get a school dinner let alone a choice?

500+ orphans and other vulnerable children come to The Foundation Feeding Programme that runs once a week. They are fed a substantial and nutritious meal. Some walk up to 20km to receive their one proper meal of the week. All suffer from malnutrition. We can only afford to support The Feeding Programme to run once a week. There are no agencies in the far north of Malawi feeding children in schools. Already, teachers are able to see that these children’s concentration has improved thanks to one proper meal a week….imagine if we could afford to feed them more often. Some children can go for a day or a couple of days without eating. That is heart breaking.

The end goal is for The Foundation and the village to be self-sufficient, but until that time arrives, these most vulnerable, malnourished children need our help. Please can you support us to support them? Please? If you could commit to giving a regular small donation each month then please contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com for bank details. Or another way to donate to the feeding programme is to text FEEDING to 70490 .Together we can make malnutrition a thing of the past and you can help us to continue Changing Lives Malawi. Maybe one day International School Meals Day will be a day that all children can celebrate and be included in. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

New clothes, shoes & maize for a needy family

Sarah’s blog 2/3/22

We saw this family last week. The roof had almost totally blown off their mud house in the wind and rain. They were able to temporarily ‘borrow’ another house….the roof isn’t much better on this one but at least they have shelter.

The family had been invited to The Foundation to receive some gifts. Today they came. Here are the photos. They cried tears of joy and couldn’t believe the lovely things they had been given. Thanks to Moses and Angela now having sponsors, Levison was able to give the family a bag of maize.

They are all malnourished and extremely sad and upset by what has happened to them. They are exhausted due to lack of food. Levison has assured them that The Foundation will look after them. We will bring you more photos of them which will, hopefully, show the improvements in their health and wellbeing.

If you would like to sponsor a child to help change their life then please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

The family’s ‘new’ temporary home
The roof of the family’s mud house has almost totally been destroyed by the wind & rain

18 months & a lovely smile!

Sarah’s blog 26/02/22

Manuel has had a tough life. Tougher than most of us will ever know. He has suffered the loss of his parents and another important caregiver and been malnourished and dressed in rags that were literally falling off him.

He was first sponsored 18 months ago after we had shown a photo of him in his only clothes…..full of holes. He has had new clothes, food and a football. Since his mum died, Levison organised for Manuel to live with his aunt and uncle and two cousins. A sponsor kindly came forward to sponsor Manuel’s cousin, Roda. So the family now has regular food going into their home as well as the children being gifted blankets and clothes and books etc.

Manuel’s sponsor gave some money to buy fertiliser for the uncle’s small piece of land. The photos are of Manuel & his uncle, taken yesterday, receiving the fertiliser. Compare these with the original photo of Manuel, and the one with his cousins when he had first moved in with them after his mum had died. Just look at the difference….Manuel looks happy and healthy and his smile is just amazing to see. This is the difference having a sponsor can make. Over 80 of the most vulnerable children are sponsored now. Let’s make things better for more.

Can you be a sponsor to a child like Manuel? A smile like that is all the confirmation you need that you can make a difference to a child by becoming their sponsor. We always say it’s about teamwork….we can’t help these orphans and vulnerable children without you. We need you. Children like Manuel need you. Sponsoring a child like Manuel might be one of the most important things you ever do. It will be the greatest gift you can give one of these children. Thanks to his sponsor, Manuel will now have opportunities open to him that he would have only been able to dream about. Together we can help these children realise their dreams. Together we can continue Changing Lives Malawi. It’s only £25 per month to sponsor a child. Please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com Thanks for reading, Sarah x

You could change the life of a child like Manuel and put a smile on their face. It would be the biggest gift you could ever give to a very vulnerable child.
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