The Second Sunday in Advent

Sarah’s blog 5/12/21

The second Sunday in advent is traditionally about peace and waiting. I have had no choice this week. I wasn’t going to write this but I think it’s important and I would be very grateful if you would be patient with me whilst I write this.

I have been in a very large hospital since Tuesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon I had some of my right kidney removed using robotic assistance. If this operation had taken place at my usual hospital, they would have removed my whole kidney. So I am thankful for the opportunities I have had. Everyone has been so lovely and kind and I have felt precious and cared for.

I am very conscious of the differences between my opportunities here and the lack of health care opportunities in Malawi, something we need to try to work on next year.

I feel I am being ‘asked’ to write this and believe me I am double and triple checking things as I am on a lot of medication for pain relief and my concentration isn’t good. At least I’ve kept my eyes open! My care,post op, has not gone to plan. My oxygen levels have been extremely low and, I spent two days in high dependency. Yesterday was my first day since Tuesday with no additional oxygen…again the comparison isn’t lost on me that Malawi doesn’t have enough oxygen in hospitals.

So without you having to know all my aches and pains, I am here to wait and recover. To recover from the big operation I have had but also the stress of 2021 which has been huge.

Every day has been a worry about where money will come from to feed children, to sponsor them, to provide for them. I have been volunteering 7 days a week. I can’t continue at that rate. It’s not going to do me any good, therefore the charity any good, if I don’t start putting myself first. I don’t know what the new working hours will look like but, for now, I will wait with peace and listen. Of course, I couldn’t have worked so hard without my husband who is my biggest supporter.

All of this would have been hard enough but there have been people on social media trying to destroy our charity. People who have never met me. People who are happy to side with others without knowing facts or thinking about the consequences of their actions. I cannot apply for grants for our charity at the moment because the awful things that have been written. People might not like me or like what I say (and that’s ok) but every decision I make is to benefit those hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children to make lives better for them.

Of course, I should have been at home this last week sharing posts; getting children sponsored, selling paintings for Christmas or lovely cards; sharing the links for e-cards and e-gifts and generally working as hard as I can for every £1 to help make a difference in Northern Malawi. Hopefully, people do find the items via our website and please share posts if you can. Hoping I will be home in a few days although this week away, courtesy of the NHS, has been amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better care.

So instead of being busy selling, I’ll wait patiently for what’s going to happen next. It might be that you decide you want to help, it might be a magazine wants to write about our work… who knows? But I do know that 2022 is going to be a better year and we hope that you will continue to journey with us http://www.changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

My room with a view of the helipad

Good news for two girls – the gift of education

Sarah’s blog 26/11/21

Levison asked me to put an appeal out for sponsors for Eunice and Maria. They were both desperate to get to secondary school, both hard workers and Eunice has been described as being a bright girl. Thankfully, a generous supporter contacted me and offered to sponsor both these girls to make their dreams of secondary education come true. There are still lots of young people waiting for that chance and if you can help to give them the gift of education it’s less than £1 per day….you can share this cost with a friend or a business could sponsor a child. Can you make a young person’s dreams come true? Thank you for joining the team that supports these young people. contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Another two girls are going to secondary school!

Sarah’s blog 17/11/21

January is only a few weeks away and I’ve been trying to find sponsors for the young people who have finished primary school. Without sponsors they have no hope of getting to secondary school. They don’t have enough money to eat a proper meal each day…so how are they going to afford the fees for secondary school? The children and young people’s concentration, self-esteem, confidence, school attendance and their exam results have improved now that they have been given new clothes and they attend the feeding programme each weekend at The Foundation. Approximately 500 children are fed a nutritious meal once a week. If we could afford it, we would be feeding them twice a week or providing money for the children to be fed at school. There are no big charities feeding children in the far north of Malawi, so children walk from as far as 20km away for their one proper meal of the week at The Foundation.

Soon, the young people who are lucky enough to be matched with sponsors and whose lives have now amazingly changed direction, will all need measuring for school uniform and shoes. All their bags, soap, exercise books, pencil cases etc will all need to be bought too. It’s going to be a busy time.

However, there are some young people still waiting for that chance of education. There are photos of some of them below. It’s £25 per month to support a young person to go to school. You could be a sponsor as an individual, a family, split the cost with a friend or sponsor from your club or business. Every little helps as the saying goes…it might not seem like much to us, but to one of these young people it will be the biggest gift they’ve ever received. To change a life please email contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com or send us a message. We are on facebook, instagram & twitter. Thanks for reading, Sarah x

Good news for two school girls

Sarah’s blog 28/10/21

We appealed for new sponsors for two of our secondary school girls. Their sponsor was unable to continue with their sponsorship. Tamiwe only has one year left to complete her secondary school education, and Catherine got top marks out of 80 children at primary school so she and one other girl, Emily, won places at Wenya school where they are doing very well. It was important that Tamiwe and Catherine were able to continue their education and not be told that, unfortunately, they were no longer sponsored. Thankfully, a new sponsor has come forward to ensure the two girls complete their schooling. We are very grateful to all our sponsors for the chances they are giving some of the most vulnerable young people in rural northern Malawi, supported by The William Stewart Foundation. If you can help an orphan have a better life please get in touch contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com . Thanks, Sarah x

The 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, Changes

Sarah’s blog 22/10/21

The 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

This is very true for most of us. However, if you are living in poverty, a lot of those choices might not be choices that are open to you. They are only choices for other people. Those choices don’t apply to people like you. You are too poor to get yourself out of the situation you are in. You are stuck without choices, chances and changes.

What if the choice is to go to primary school today hungry, or work all day for 10p to try to buy some food?

What if the choice is to buy some food or to buy a candle so you can have light to do your homework?

What if you want to go to get a job but you’ve no shoes and and only have rags to wear?

What if you’ve worked really hard at primary school, passed your leavers exams but you cannot go to secondary school because you can’t afford the school fees?

The hundreds of vulnerable children supported by The William Stewart Foundation don’t have the choices that we take for granted. Choices aren’t for the most vulnerable. Chances for a better future aren’t going to happen by themselves. Change cannot happen without help. Without our help. Without your help.

These children want to have choices, have chances and make changes. They need opportunities and they need us. Eventually, they will be self-sufficient, but they need our compassion and commitment in the short term. Can you help a vulnerable young person to go to secondary school for four years? It’s less than £1 a day to sponsor a young person and give them choices and chances to make positive changes. Can you help us change lives in Malawi? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com The young people below are all looking for a sponsor to have the chance of education. 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

Reading in Emma’s Rainbow Library

Sarah’s blog 17/10/21

Fundraising enabled a library to be built and named after Emma Buchanan, a lovely girl who sadly passed away. She loved reading and, if she had been in better health, would have loved to have visited Malawi.

Shelves have been built in the library and we’ve been sending books. There are more on the next container; educational books as well as fiction. Also some tables and chairs.

This morning Levison sent me photos of young people sitting reading in the library. I asked if he could ask a couple of the young people what they were reading and why they picked the books that they had. It was really enlightening to hear from them and find out a bit a more information.

Moses is in the white t-shirt and Lameck in the pink t-shirt. Moses has a sponsor and is on the apprenticeship scheme. Lameck doesn’t have a sponsor and does casual piece work to try to buy food.

Moses said he wanted to look at stories in books and, if possible, wants to write his own stories. Unfortunately, Moses had only completed his first year in secondary school and then dropped out due to lack of resources and money to pay his fees. He then was able to be sponsored to go on the apprenticeship scheme for two years. After hearing he would like to write stories, I contacted his sponsor today to ask if they would be willing to support Moses for three years if he was to go back to secondary school and finish his education as Levison said that is what Moses would love to do. His sponsor was delighted to be able to help with this. Moses will find out tomorrow that he is able to return to secondary school in January and I’m sure he will work hard.

Lameck told Levison that he was interested in learning more about culture so that’s why he chose that book. Lameck has no sponsor. He didn’t even complete primary school and sit his leavers exams through no fault of his own. He only had rags to wear. He didn’t have notebooks and pencils that he needed to write his lessons. He had no choice but to drop out of primary school. So, despite wanting to learn, unless his luck changes, he is destined for a low paid job (if he can find a steady job) or doing piece work as and when work is available.

It would be amazing if someone could sponsor Lameck to go on the apprenticeship scheme for two years to be taught practical skills or if he could finish his last year in primary school, do his exams, and then go to secondary school for four years. It’s £25 per month to sponsor a child or young person. You can sponsor as an individual or a family or share the cost with a friend. Can you imagine if we hadn’t been able to go to school because we didn’t have a notebook and pencil? Sponsoring Lameck might be the most important thing anyone ever does for him. Can you give Lameck the gift of education. Please? contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading, Sarah x

Lots of young people reading books in the library this morning. Lameck was reading about history and culture and Moses was reading different books with stories as he’d like to write stories too.
Moses had completed one year of secondary school but dropped out due to poverty. His sponsor has been supporting him on the apprenticeship programme but is going to support him to go back to school. Life is looking good for Moses thanks to his sponsor.

Lameck didn’t even get to finish primary school due to extreme poverty and has been trying to do casual work ever since to buy food. Lameck deserves a chance to finish his last year of primary school and go on to secondary school. He clearly likes learning and reading and is trying to better himself. Please can you give Lameck the gift of education?

Being a sponsor changes lives

Sarah’s blog 16/10/21

I was going through some photos from a recent event and am just amazed at the difference in Laston since he has been matched with a sponsor. He was malnourished, in rags with shoes that were far too small for his feet. £1.50 was all that a farmer paid him for a month’s casual labour. Things seemed hopeless for him and his grandmother. He’s happier, feeling and looking better, has a monthly food parcel, access to the weekly feeding programme, a blanket, clothes etc. He’s just left primary school and, instead of his education being over which is what happens to most children, his sponsor will pay his fees and he will start secondary school in January. He has said he would like to become a lawyer. Lots of studying and hard work and who knows? Laston may achieve his dreams. There are 30 children who have left primary school who are waiting for a sponsor. Can you help one of them achieve their dreams? Its £25 per month contact_us@changinglivesmalawi.com thanks for reading. Sarah x