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

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

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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