Another generous rugby donation from Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh – thank you
Sarah’s blog 2/2/23
Bruce Aitchison, a housemaster at Merchiston Castle School, has been so supportive of our charity and of introducing rugby to the orphans and other vulnerable children we support in rural Northern Malawi. Bruce also runs the social media site for rugby fans ‘Happiness is Egg Shaped’.
Rugby was only played for the first time in the far north when Jack Mphande, Malawian Rugby Development Coach visited last year. We and Community Sports Leaders Africa sponsored Jack’s visit to coach the young people who absolutely loved it. The fact that someone came from the south to spend time with the orphans was a huge deal to them. They no longer feel forgotten and they know that people are investing in their futures.
Last year Stuart, my husband, travelled to Edinburgh to Merchiston Castle School, to meet with Bruce and some of the boys who are students there to receive a big donation of rugby kit, boots and rugby balls. These have all now arrived in Malawi and the young people have modelled them and are delighted with such smart rugby kit. Bruce contacted us to say that there were more boots for us to send so we were able to meet him this morning. These donations will make such a difference to the young people’s mental health as well as enjoying playing rugby for their physical health.
Jack Mphande has kindly set aside two weeks (in May/June dates to be confirmed) to head north once again to train teachers in the 14 primary schools and also coach the young people at Bright Futures Secondary School. We estimate that to facilitate this it will cost approximately £400 so any help would be much appreciated. email@example.com
All the rugby balls, kit and boots will be able to be shared amongst the different schools. A lot of students, even though they are still at primary school, are teenagers, as they have missed a lot of school to work for a pittance to try to earn money for food. These vulnerable students love playing team sports and are able to forget about the poverty they live in and the trauma they have experienced. Spending time learning new skills and playing competitively with their friends is so good for them.
Thanks so much to Bruce and Merchiston Castle School. I’ve included some links from Bright Futures Secondary School and Jack’s first rugby visit.
Hope you enjoy the photos and videos and reading my blogs and thank you everyone who has supported us to help the children in Malawi, Sarah x
On World Education Day, we thank our supporters who are helping us provide education to some of the most vulnerable orphans in rural northern Malawi.
Sarah’s blog 24/1/23
What does education look like where you live? How many years do children go to school? Is it provided to all children, at no cost?
Where you live, what happens to children when they leave school? Do most go to college or university or an apprenticeship? Or they might go straight into employment? All of these opportunities happen after children have completed primary AND SECONDARY education. What would happen if they didn’t have these opportunities?
Not all children will pass all of their exams. As long as they’ve tried their best and worked hard, that’s all anyone can ask. They will still have been learning whilst at school.
Imagine that there are schools… but not for your children. In Malawi, primary school is free. However, if you cannot afford food then your children will have to miss school so they can earn a pittance to try to help buy food for the family.
Imagine your child walking all day to the nearest maize mill with a heavy bundle of maize balanced on their head. It’s not even your maize… they are walking 15km or 20km all day with their heavy burden to be paid a pittance for carrying someone else’s maize to the mill. No clean water or food to drink or eat all day, at risk of being attacked along the way. They have to miss school. How does that feel?
Laston, one of the boys we have matched with a sponsor, worked for a farmer, helping to look after his cows, for approximately £1.50 per month. There was no school for Laston – school was for other children – until we found a sponsor to support him.
In Chambo primary school, where the majority of orphans and other vulnerable children attend, whom the Foundation supports, they have minimal resources. No desks and chairs, apart from primary 8. All other children sit on the floor in their classrooms. They have hardly any books. They have no clean water supply and no latrines. We gifted 17 boxes of books to Chambo primary school to support literacy and help children become confident readers.
Children have to sit exams when leaving primary school. If you don’t pass then you don’t go to secondary school. There are not enough places in secondary school, so if you don’t get picked for a place then you don’t go. If you do pass your exams and are lucky enough to be picked for a place but you can’t afford to pay the fees… it’s heartbreaking. That is your formal education finished at the end of primary school.
That’s why Bright Futures Secondary School was desperately needed. To ensure all the orphans and vulnerable children, supported by The Foundation, had the chance of a secondary education without having to pay. Education is everything to these children. They know it is their escape from the dire poverty they live in.
Bright Futures Secondary School is being built in phases, as it’s obviously a big and costly project. Phase 1 has been successfully completed – staff accommodation, staff latrine and classrooms 1 and 2 and passed with flying colours when the inspectors came from the Education Department.
Now we need to continue our fundraising commitment to build classrooms 3 and 4 to ensure these vulnerable students have the opportunities the deserve. That they have choices and chances. That they have a brighter future.
All students at Bright Futures Secondary School are provided with a uniform, a school bag, other clothes. They receive a free school lunch. They have access to clean water and showers. Girls are given reusable sanitary towels (made at The Foundation) so they don’t have to miss one week of school each month. They are allowed to borrow books to take home from the library at The Foundation. Their dreams are coming true. They are working hard. With your help we are changing lives in Malawi.
On World Education Day we are saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped us to support the students this far. Without your help, these students would not have been able to attend secondary school and have a free lunch each day. The school lunch is vital as it’s probably the only meal for many of them.
We need your help to build the next phase of the school. Two classrooms and more latrines will cost £25,000. Will you be part of the team supporting these vulnerable students to succeed and achieve? Will you be part of the team allowing them to have more choices and chances? Will you be part of the team helping them to help themselves out of poverty? https://gofund.me/ece5753a
If, on World Education Day, you would like to show your commitment to some of the most vulnerable children in rural Northern Malawi, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or donate to our fundraiser here
We are passionate about helping these children to help themselves out of poverty and giving them a better start. The nursery has 75 preschool children (age 4-6). As well as clothes and blankets, each child has just been gifted a book to take home. We want children to learn that books are a wonderful resource that can be used each day for information and escapism. Who knows if any of these children will become authors in the future and write books for other children?
As you might imagine, running costs, as well as capital costs for these projects need to be found. The children need more people fighting their corner and supporting their education. Here are ways you can get involved;
2. Can you commit to £5 or £10 monthly to help pay for food for the nursery or secondary school?
3. Will you organise a fundraiser for us? Can you involve your friends? Can your family help? What could your children & their friends do?
4. Would you like us to visit your club or school and show photos & talk about the projects we are supporting in Malawi?
5. Would you like to be matched with a vulnerable child to support their education and wellbeing? It’s only £25 p/m and you can split this cost with a friend.
6. If you are selling preloved clothes or toys… could you do it on behalf of our charity?
7. Can your business sponsor an event? Or donate towards a building? Or pay for the feeding programme for a week? We would, of course give you publicity. email@example.com
You can be sure that all money goes to the projects we support. Our charity is run by committed volunteers. So we have no salaries or admin costs. Thank you for reading and supporting us to help continue Changing Lives Malawi, Sarah x
We have been extremely fortunate to have had great support in being able to complete phase 1 of Bright Futures Secondary School. Now we are asking for help to fundraise for building classrooms 3 and 4 (phase 2) to ensure the education of the most vulnerable teenagers can continue as they progress through the school. Each classroom costs approximately £10,000 to build. We are reaching out to individuals, clubs, schools, businesses to help us help the students at Bright Futures Secondary School. firstname.lastname@example.org https://gofund.me/ece5753a
For those who don’t know, we had to build a secondary school as the nearest secondary school required the children we help to support to board at school as it was too far to walk. This added to the cost of school and the school had increased it’s prices again this year. There are not enough secondary school places and secondary school needs to be paid for making it prohibitive for the vast majority of the very vulnerable children we help to support.
Children can only go to secondary school if they pass their primary school leavers exams and are picked for a place at secondary school. So we had a situation where sponsored children, despite having someone to pay their secondary school fees and having passed their primary school leavers exams, were not picked for a place at secondary school. This was heart breaking for them. Education is their way out of poverty. Education is a way to a brighter future. So we knew we had to fundraise to build a school.
None of the children at Bright Futures Secondary School pay fees as they are all orphans or extremely vulnerable and none can afford fees. In the future, it may be that places can be offered to a small number of fee paying students but currently the focus on the most vulnerable who need our help to ensure they have a way out of poverty. The end goal is always that this community will be self-sufficient and no longer need a helping hand. These are very capable proud people.
So can you partner with us? Could you donate some money in memory of a loved one? Will you take on a sponsored challenge for us in 2023? Host an event with your friends or at your school? Do you have a load of coins that you could donate to support the education of these vulnerable teenagers? Please get in touch if you can help. Donations of £500 or over ensure your name, your company’s name, or that of a loved one, can be written over a classroom door or on a building. All of us are volunteers, there are no salaries or admin costs for our charity…all money donated goes to the projects we support. Can your company sponsor a building? You’d get lots of social media coverage and you would be making a huge difference.
Or could you make a monthly donation to support a student or support free school meals? If enough people commit to £5 or £10 per month then this will be a huge help in providing a substantial, nutritious meal at Bright Futures Secondary School each day….perhaps their only meal each day. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading and supporting, Sarah x
Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I just wanted to post a few videos celebrating how wonderful we think the children in Ibuluma are. There are hundreds of them who are malnourished and have suffered varying amounts of trauma but, despite all that they are doing well. They now know that people care about them.
If you have helped us then we thank you. Here are ways you can support us to continue Changing Lives Malawi.
During the summer, my husband, Stuart, went to Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh to collect a very generous donation of rugby balls, boots and rugby kit. It has now arrived in Malawi to be used by these vulnerable teenagers at Bright Futures Secondary School. Rugby was only recently introduced in the north of Malawi and the young people picked up the skills they were taught really quickly. They are becoming far more confident and, as you can see from the photos, they are enjoying posing for photos. Merchiston Castle School – Rugby Donation – Changing Lives Malawi
There will be another rugby coaching visit in a few months time when the rain season finishes. When Jack Mphande, the development coach, returns he is planning a two week visit and to introduce touch rugby into all the primary schools local to the foundation. In the New Year, will be looking for people to help with supporting this event financially.
I’ll also share the links from my recent blogs on the new school – Bright Futures Secondary School (phase 1). We are now fundraising for classrooms 3 & 4 (phase 2) The cost is approximately £10,000 per classroom. If anyone is able to help us we will be very grateful https://gofund.me/ece5753a
Thank you to all who have donated rugby kit and to Bruce, Housemaster at Merchiston Castle School thank you for making all this possible. We are very grateful. Hope you enjoy the photos and reading about how these vulnerable teenagers in rural northern Malawi now have a brighter future. Please email me if you would like to know more or would like to help email@example.com thanks, Sarah x
Education should be available to everyone. It should not matter where you live or what your background is. Help us build a school for vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi please? https://gofund.me/44a92444
We help support 500+ orphans and other vulnerable children through a variety of projects including a feeding programme which feeds 500+ children once a week with a substantial and nutritious meal. Unfortunately, there are no big agencies feeding children in this area in schools so the children are malnourished and hungry. Some children are walking up to 20km for this one proper meal of the week.
We have matched 90 of the most vulnerable children with sponsors. As well as receiving a monthly food parcel and welfare checks, sponsors pay for the child’s education when they go to secondary school. However, there are not enough places in the nearest secondary schools and eleven of the sponsored children didn’t get picked for a place at secondary school this year despite having passed primary school leavers exams and having the funds to pay for secondary school. If you don’t get picked then you don’t go. They have had to resit their last year of primary school again with the hope of being picked for a place this year. It’s heart breaking for them when they are trying so hard. They know education is their way out of dire poverty.
Can you help? Can you be part of the team that can help raise funds for a new secondary school? Please? We always say it’s about teamwork. We can’t do what we do without you. The nearest secondary school is too far to walk each day so children have to board which puts the cost up. Lots of families rely on their children to help with chores so a school in the village would be a far better option.
Our plan is to build the school in phases, adding to the school year on year. Prices have risen and the Malawian currency has been devalued. One classroom will cost approximately £7,000. A latrine block will cost £750. We have had some generous donations already. If we can raise enough money for three classrooms and two latrine blocks then building the first phase of the school to open this October 2022 will be achievable. That’s £22,500. We have £10,000 already and 70,000 bricks have already been made and are being stacked into kilns to be fired. So £12,500 to be raised. Can you please help us to give the gift of education to some of the most vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi.
Any donation of £500 or over can name a classroom. We are happy to partner with businesses to name a classroom after their company. Of course, we need lots and lots of smaller donations too. If 1,000 people all donated just £10 each then we would be almost there!! 130 chairs have been donated and are about to go on a container to Malawi. Preloved school uniforms have been collected. Eighty new school bags that had also been donated are on their way too along with lots of other items for the students. Let’s build a school!! https://gofund.me/44a92444
Merchiston Castle School had generously donated preloved rugby balls and kit which is also about to go to Malawi on the container. The orphans and other vulnerable children have had one rugby coaching session (and loved it) and more coaching and competition sessions between all the local primary schools in the Chitipa District in northern Malawi is being organised for this autumn. We have also had rugby donations from Annan Rugby Club and Strathendrick Rugby Club and we are very grateful. Rugby has arrived in northern Malawi for the first time! We’ve also had lots of football donations and netball bibs as football, rugby and netball will all be played by pupils at the new secondary school.
We have a fundraising event running at the moment which is open for anyone to join in. We are trying to cover the 13,000km + from here to The Foundation we support in Malawi, which is how far the boxes of aid travel via land and sea. So far we have covered 20% of that journey by people walking, running, cycling, scooting and rowing machine. Some of the young people in Malawi wanted to join in and they ran 4km each which added 320km to our total. You can join in too by adding your kilometres from walking the dog, walking to work, walking round the shops….whatever you are doing….we would love your kilometres. Here is the link to take part https://forms.gle/twQYfx7LRRrtvdhx9 or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org and to donate to our fundraiser to build the school https://gofund.me/44a92444
Help us to give the gift of education. Help us to continue Changing Lives Malawi. Help us help the children. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x
As you know, we are trying our best to raise money to build the first block of a secondary school. Bright Futures Secondary School will be a community school for the orphans and other vulnerable young people to attend.
Education should be available for everyone. There are currently not enough places at local secondary schools. If you don’t get picked for a place, even if you have passed your primary leavers exams and can afford the school fees.
This is what happened to eleven of our sponsored young people this year. They are resitting their last year of primary school, hoping for better grades, hoping to be picked for a place.
As the local secondary school is a distance away the young people, who are sponsored and do get a place at school, have to board at school. This adds to costs and also means they aren’t available to help their families with chores.
A secondary school in the village would make such a difference to so many people. Education is their way out of dire poverty – their way to a better future for themselves and their families.
Bricks are being made…about 40,000 so far, and kilns are going to be built soon to fire the bricks.
There are people working hard in Malawi and here to try our best to help these vulnerable children. As well as education, a school will help prevent teenage pregnancies and girls being married off too soon. Already, The Foundation has proved that if the young people are kept busy and given opportunities then there will be far less teenage pregnancies. The young people’s self-esteem has increased as they learn new skills, play team sports with their peers and read in the library. They know people care about them. They have hope for a better future. We need to continue supporting the projects that support them. This is absolutely vital to protect these vulnerable young people.
Here, we are trying to raise funds and awareness. It’s really hard as we know that some people have less available cash. We need to reach a wider group of people and if we all give a little, that will add up to a lot!
Also, we are trying to source supplies to provide for the young people when the school is built. We need to plan ahead as the container takes approximately 3 months for its journey.
There are over 100 chairs at The Bananabox Trust warehouse that we are sending for the first phase of the school. Someone donated boxes of new laptop bags. We are sending 80 of these for the young people to use as school bags. Pencil cases and pens are in boxes too as well as some secondary school uniform.
Stuart, my husband, delivered some boxes and 72 rugby balls to Dundee today and took a photo of all the chairs to show Levison.
I also received a photo from one of our supporters today who put a shout out on her village Facebook page asking for preloved secondary school uniform. People have been very generous as she’s collected a great amount which will kit out some of the pupils who will attend Bright Futures Secondary School.
There’s still so much to do and so much money to raise but we WILL do this. The children are relying on us. So if you can spare a few £££ we would be so grateful. Thank you for reading and supporting, Sarah x
Last week, Stuart had been to Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh to collect donations of rugby balls and kit from Annan Rugby Club which Bruce Aitchison had collected for us. Bruce is House Master for Rogerson House at Merchiston Castle School and also founder of the social media site all about rugby
Bruce and some of his rugby friends have been very supportive of our charity and how we are trying to support some of the most vulnerable children in rural northern Malawi. So Stuart visited the school again yesterday and met up with Bruce to collect the balls and kit from Merchiston Castle School.
Rugby has only very recently been introduced to the Chitipa District in the far north of Malawi when Jack Mphande, Malawi International Rugby Player and Rugby Development Officer, ran two rugby coaching camps. He is going to visit again to start coaching in schools in that area. Jack was very impressed with how the young people he was working with picked up the sport so quickly and his enthusiasm for the game was picked up by the children. The rugby donations we have been given are going to make a big difference to these young people. They will also know that people they have never met care about them.
All of these children are either orphans or living in dire poverty. All are very vulnerable. Until quite recently they had no hope. For them to have a visit from a top coach like Jack Mphande was so special for them. Someone important visiting them, working with them, teaching new skills, spending time with them, chatting with them, encouraging them and calling them by name. That experience is priceless. These children are more confident and their self-esteem has improved and they enjoy playing team sports with their friends whilst they forget about the problems and difficulties in their lives. An holistic approach is being taken, it’s so much more than just feeding hungry, malnourished children.
Children also benefit from being matched with a sponsor to help provide more food, a blanket, clothes, welfare checks and pay for secondary education. If you would like to sponsor a vulnerable child it’s only £25 per month and you can sponsor as an individual or share the cost with a friend or family. A business or club could sponsor a child too. Ninety of the most vulnerable children have been matched with sponsors but there are many more waiting for a helping hand. Can you sponsor a child today? Or donate to one of the projects? email@example.com .
Thank you so much to Bruce and all at Rogerson House, Merchiston Castle School for your generosity. Here are some photos and videos of some of the children you will be supporting. These were taken on their first day so they did brilliantly! If you want to keep up to date with our latest news you can follow us on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/changinglivesmalawi/ We are also on twitter and instagram and you can sign up to follow my blogs so you don’t miss anything! Thanks so much again, Sarah x
After the wonderful response to the appeal for a sponsor for Brighton and also finding sponsors for Temwa and Ketti, I thought I would highlight some other children who are most in need of sponsorship. These are very vulnerable children who need a helping hand to change their lives. They need someone to take a chance on them, to give them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. They will know that someone cares about them…someone cares about their future.
There are 11 children who I am highlighting on this post. They are all in need of a helping hand. They are all living in dire poverty. Thankfully, they have been given clothes from the generous donations we have collected. Please consider sponsoring one of these children to change their lives. You can sponsor as an individual, as a family, two friends can share the cost of only 85p per day, or a club or business could sponsor a child. Can you make a difference today? Will you commit to one of these vulnerable children today? Please? firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for reading, Sarah x
It’s been a busy day today. I started out by doing a blog about rugby and the great donations we’ve got from Annan Rugby and Merchiston Castle School. I also had a conversation with Jack Mphande, Malawian rugby coach, as he was impressed with these donations. He is planning another trip north to continue the rugby coaching that he’s already started.
Rice and mushrooms for breakfast….it was nice but I am getting rather fed up with my limited diet.
Stuart, my husband (the logistics manager aka box packer and mover) and myself spent a couple of hours at our storage container packing up boxes of donations. These will be taken to The Bananabox Trust warehouse in Dundee next week to await the next container to Malawi. We have only recently been lucky to have this storage facility, paid for by a generous monthly donation. Previously, all of these were kept in our house which was looking more like a warehouse every day! So we are very grateful to have this extra storage facility.
I had a glass of water when I got home then managed 20km on my exercise bike. It took over half an hour but it wasn’t too bad as I’m reading a good book on my tablet at the same time. My knees are sore now though.
More rice and vegetables and a tub of cherry tomatoes filled me up and I’m going to have roasted vegetables for dinner. I am so pleased to have made it to this stage of my challenge. Only one more day to go. I need your help to support me to get to the end of my challenge and to give the gift of education to the children whom The Foundation supports. All children deserve an education. All children deserve to go to school no matter where they are in the world or whatever their circumstances. Please help me to give these children the gift of education. Let’s build a school! https://gofundme/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading and supporting me, Sarah x
A few months ago, the young people in Northern Malawi had never heard of rugby let alone played it. A charity and friend of ours, Community Sports Leaders Africa arranged for Jack Mphande, Malawian International Rugby Coach, to travel north to introduce rubgy in the Chitipa District.
Jack spent a few days with sports leaders teaching them about touch rugby. Levison picked Jack up and took him to The Foundation where Jack spent a couple of days with some of the young people. Jack introduced them to touch rugby, teaching some coaching skills and playing a few games. The time Jack spent at The Foundation, including food for all the children involved, was paid for by generous donations from three of our supporters. Again we thank them for facilitating this.
I don’t think we can comprehend what a visit like Jack’s has meant to the orphans and other vulnerable children. And also to Levison and his team. The hundreds of children supported by The Foundation had no hope. They had no help. Malnourished, and in rags, and having experienced the trauma of family members dying, life was unbearable.
Fast forward a few short years and they have new clothes, are being supported through various projects including The Feeding Programme. They are being nurtured. They know The Foundation is their safe place; a time to be with friends, a time to learn and a time to relax and forget about their troubles. For an important person like Jack Mphande, a Malawian rugby coach, to visit them was amazing. For him to take an interest in them. For him to learn their names. For him to spend time with them. For him to teach them new skills. For him to laugh with them and praise them. For the orphans and other vulnerable children that must mean so much. Self-confidence and self-esteem are growing all the time.
These children now have hope of a better future. They know that people care about them. They know they are important. There is still so much to do but so much has been accomplished already. I keep saying that we cannot do this alone, it’s always about teamwork. So to everyone who has already helped us and supported us to help the vulnerable children – thank you. If you are reading this and think you’d like to get involved, you will be very welcome email@example.com
Strathendrick RFC, our local club, have already made some donations of kit and rugby balls which came in very handy for Jack’s visit. Now we have generous donations from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh and Annan Rugby to collect from Edinburgh soon. We are so grateful to the network of people who have enabled these donations. They will make such a difference to ensuring that rugby in the Chitipa District of Malawi, in the far north, continues to grow and thrive. Many, many thanks to you all. These donations will be packed up to go on the next container which takes about three months to arrive. There will be photos of the donations once they arrive but, in the meantime, here are just a few of the photos and videos from the first Rugby Camp for you to enjoy.
If you’d like to get in touch to donate money to our school fundraiser, or to support the feeding programme, or sponsor a child or anything else then please firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for reading, Sarah x
An holistic approach is taken to improving the lives of the hundreds of children supported by The Foundation. Levison has sent lots of photos from a busy Sunday.
Today was a feeding day and some of the children from the gardening club who had helped grow cabbages, were shown how to prepare and cook them as part of today’s meal. Children have started learning to weave baskets, others were weaving mats to sit on. Some children were playing rugby, some knitting and some sewing. These are all great skills to have for their futures. Children are having opportunities to learn new things that they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to try. These children are having fun with their friends whilst learning and are able to forget about their problems for a while.
I hope you enjoy looking at the photos. There is a lot happening at The Foundation. We don’t always see how much is happening or how busy it is. However, with so many children to support, every day at The Foundation is a busy one! I hope you enjoy the photos. Remember the link to my fundraiser to build a school for these children is https://gofund.me/ca9c1629 Thanks for reading, Sarah x