Malawi update

Malawi Update – March 2016

Our visit from Bandawe last year in September was a great success and was really enjoyed by Alick, Bordington, Benford & Andrews. They especially appreciated our Scottish hospitality embracing everything from a Ceilidh to a Burns Club night; playing an active part in all! Donations they received during this visit allowed the purchase of a much needed maize mill for Bandawe Secondary School.

Many thanks to all who participated in the Alternative Gift Scheme for Malawi last Christmas which was Solar lamps to enable students to continue their studies in the evenings. Together in Alloway and Doonfoot we raised the fantastic sum of £2060! The local primary schools also raised £620 towards this project which is amazing. We would also like to thank the Parent and Toddler group who raised £97.50 for the purchase of baby mosquito nets.

We are also pleased to announce that BAGSS has started building a new teaching house. There has been a problem with understaffing due to a lack of teaching accommodation; this new house will help alleviate this problem. The students attending BAGSS are funding this project by contributing MK 5,000 (£4.78) each per term and they hope to have completed this project by May, 2016. The foundation stone has just been laid by Rev. SMY Munthali in the presence of management, staff and the donors themselves (students) as can be seen in the pictures below. Benford (head teacher of BAGGS) asks for your prayers as they begin this ambitious project.

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BAGSS has now received the suitcase sent jointly by the churches in Ayr. This suitcase contained a lot of items the girls desperately needed and here are some pictures of the girls holding their new socks and underwear.

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We also have two up and coming fundraising events for Malawi which we would appreciate your support with

The Lang Scots Mile-11am Ayr Esplanade Walk –Saturday 12th March

In his tale of Tam o’ Shanter Robert Burns said “we think na on the lang Scots miles”. On Saturday 12th March Rt Rev Angus Morrison the Moderator of the General Assembly has invited you to join him in doing the opposite and to think and walk the Lang Scots mile. This venture starts at 11 am at Blackburn Car park (next to Ayr India) the walk will take you along the marked Lang Scots Mile on Ayr Esplanade and continue to Newton Wallacetown church where refreshments will be served and thereafter returning along the Esplanade to the car park. This is a great opportunity for a pleasant walk and the company of not only the Moderator of the General Assembly but other like minded folks from other churches in the Presbytery. It is hoped that those participating will make a donation to the Presbytery/Malawi partnership. Monies raised will go to the cost of sending medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in the Bandawe and Limphasa areas.

So what is a “Lang Scots Mile”? Historically a Scots mile was longer that a standard mile, the standard mile is 1760 yards and the Scots mile was 1984 yards. Poles are in place on the footpath on Ayr Esplanade measuring this distance having been put up by South Ayrshire Council and are used by local runners and walkers.

If you are attending and would be prepared to be a steward please get in touch with Bill Duncan 01292 442924

 

Pop UK-Concerts at Alloway Parish Church 6pm and 745pm –Thursday 17th March

Pop UK is a project that brings together Alloway, Doonfoot and Fisherton Primary Schools. They will spend the week rehearsing modern songs with meaningful messages and then come together to record a CD which will also be sold at the concerts. There will be two concerts, due to the number of children. The first concert will be at 6pm and the second at 7.45pm. We would love to see you there to support the children as they continue to support their friends in Malawi. As some of you may know, due to flooding, the harvest in Malawi has failed. Therefore our Pop UK concert proceeds this year will go towards buying food for Bandawe Primary School. This is an urgent appeal as they are running out of food to feed the children in their care; so half of what we raise will be used immediately to buy food. The other half of the money will go towards starting a chicken project within the school. Chicken projects are a very worthwhile endeavour as they will give the school a renewable income. The school can use the eggs to feed the children and any extra can be sold to the surrounding community. With this extra income the school can buy more chickens or other foods they need. This project will allow the school to become more self sufficient in the longer term. The tickets to the Pop UK concerts are free. If you would like tickets see Julie between the church services on the 6th March and 13th March. We would love to see you there!

 

Malawi Update – June 2015

As part of our partnership, Alloway Church has been sponsoring girls at BAGSS who would not otherwise get a secondary education. Previously, we carried out a refurbishment of a dormitory housing 100 girls, together with new toilets and showers. Through our primary schools, new toilets and a library were funded, and our girls and Julie Griffiths did great work practically to repaint all the classrooms at Bandawe Primary School.

In discussion with the previous Headmistress (Fiddes Msowoya) we asked what would be priorities for BAGSS. The lack of a proper kitchen and indoor dining area came top. The existing “kitchen” if you can call it that, was simply an open wood fire against a wall which was very unsafe for the cooks and the girls ate outside under a mango tree, come rain or shine. Altogether very inadequate. 

The head teacher changed and Benford Mwakayuni took over and he and I began discussing the  details of the idea that an all purpose hall for assembly, dining, exams  would be better together with a new kitchen with “Rocket stoves”. With some coaxing and guidance from me as to what we expected, plans and bills of quantities were prepared for a 12metre by 24metres building. A partnership of funding from APC and BAGSS was agreed  with APC providing just short of £12,000 or 80% of the costs. A contract between APC and BAGSS was entered into with staged payments  The project is now very satisfactorily completed.

You have all given most generously in many and various ways to support our overseas mission commitment to our Bandawe partnership and BAGSS in particular. Our commitment to mission partnership continues but below is a photograph of our biggest project to date which has been achieved only with your help and support (Murray Hutchison).

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The Morag McMahon Bible Prizes for 2015 were distributed to eight girls based on their various roles in the church- singing, reading the Bible during services, interceding, leading fellow students during our Sunday morning English services.

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Finally, the Presbytery of Ayr are delighted to update us with the news that 5750 mosquito nets have now been bought and distributed thanks to the wonderful alternative gift scheme.  Huge thanks to everyone who bought nets.  Lives will be saved following this initiative

 

Malawi Update – September 2014

Bill Duncan has returned safely after a visit to Malawi with the Presbytery of Ayr team 2014. We look forward in time to hearing more about the trip and all that has been learned.

The Overseas Mission Committee of the church has approved plans for a substantial construction at Bandawe All Girls Secondary School (BAGSS). The new building will include a fully equipped kitchen and dining hall. As with most buildings in Malawi, this will be a multi-use facility for the girls at the school, and we suspect for other groups on the Mission Station. In total £10,000 has been raised for the build to be possible. Thank you to everyone for the tremendous support. Building work is well under the way following the site clearance, 1.85m foundations have been dug and materials have been purchased. This is our biggest project undertaken at BAGSS, and we are delighted to be helping the school and the Station in this way.

Eight pit latrine toilets at Bandawe Primary School have now been completed. A project made possible after the £2,000 was raised by the members of the Alloway Malawi Youth Mission Team 2013, supported by Alloway and Doonfoot Primary Schools. Following the visit in June 2013, it was evident to the team that the provision of these basic facilities would greatly improve the learning environment of the 1119 pupils at the school, who currently have no sanitation at all. 4 toilets have been built by the school buildings and 4 at the hostel.

The seven girls who have been sponsored by members of the church for the last four years, have recently graduated from BAGSS. We wish them well as they move on, some to further education which is fabulous. We are discussing with the new head teacher Mr Benford Mwakayuni the possibility of further sponsorship in the future, and we hope to identify two new students for sponsorship shortly.

Our huge thanks to Gillian and John Hannah who recently completed a marathon in Kenya. Their efforts have raised in excess of £2300 for our Malawi funds. Full details of their run will be in our next newsletter.

We ask that everyone remembers Madge in prayer, as she travels to Kenya and Malawi – 19th August to 23rd September. Madge is a Trustee for a charity called Abyss rest. This charity runs a feeding station for many children in the south of the country. Whilst she is visiting Madge hopes to call in on our partners at Bandawe.

The Mission Committee of the church will be holding a stall at Alloway Primary School’s Christmas Fayre on Saturday 22nd November 11am – 1pm. The proceeds will be for our continuing work for Malawi. If you have any “unopened treasures”, that we can sell at the stall, please hand them in to church from 1st November.

 

Malawi Trip 2013 Faithshare Report

Twinning Between:  The Church of Scotland, Presbytery of Ayr – Alloway Parish Church

And

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Livingstonia Synod – Bandawe and Limphasa Presbyteries – Bandawe Station and Thipula Congregation

Date of Visit                        12th – 26th June 2013

 Location of Visit                 Northern Malawi

 Report Written By             Sandra McCall and Julie Griffiths

Background and Purpose of the Visit

The Covenant of Partnership between the Presbytery of Ayr and Bandawe and Limphasa Presbyteries of the CCAP in rural Northern Malawi began in 2004 when a World Mission team, including a minister from the Presbytery of Ayr, visited Malawi just after a very poor harvest.

The story of the traumatic experience of seeing many people virtually starving led to a Presbytery of Ayr team visit in 2006 to determine how best to help and the Presbytery Partnership Agreement has been in place since then. Subsequent team visits have taken place in 2008, 2010 and 2012, as part of the Partnership Agreement to visit every other year.

The Covenant has encouraged individual churches in the Presbytery of Ayr to Twin with individual churches in our two Partner Presbyteries. This has worked very well and the team visits are to help sustain, develop and strengthen these links and to manage the specific projects we support.

In addition to informed prayers, the areas identified to help the local communities include: churches – people and church buildings; orphans – orphan care centres and nurseries; widows – widows associations; education – primary and secondary school and a school for the deaf; health – clinics and hospitals and; the need to achieve long term sustainability.

The 2013 visiting team comprised of Sandra McCall, St Nicholas Church, Julie Griffiths, Youth and Schools Worker, Alloway Parish Church, Cara Moynihan, Fiona McKechnie, Jenny Brash, Kate Davidson, Rebecca Faulkner, and Siobhan Carter, all young people and members of Alloway Parish Church.

The purpose of this visit was to strengthen and develop Alloway’s twinning and relationship with Thipula congregation, and the many supported projects on Bandawe Station – The Clinic, Bandawe All Girls Secondary School, Bandawe Primary School, and Bandawe School for the Hearing Impaired.  The team would focus on the practical support of the Primary School, whilst visiting all other partner projects, as well as other congregations who are twinned with the Presbytery of Ayr.

Programmed Activities

The visit was from the 12th to 26th June, including travelling time. The itinerary included: a visit to the Synod Office in Mzuzu; visits to the two Presbytery offices at Limphasa and Bandawe, visits to six churches linked to Ayr Presbytery and four Prayer Houses, including two along the banks of Lake Malawi; visits to several schools, nursery schools, orphan care centres, widows association, clinics and hospitals; visit to a Church of Scotland HIV project at Ekwendeni Mission Station; carrying out a sample mosquito net survey, of nets previously provided; a meeting with the Malaria Control Officer at Nkhata Bay Hospital; spend time in the homes of our partners and of friends made on previous trips and to take part at several services.

We took out medical supplies, mobile phones, a church banner made by the sewing team at Alloway Church for our partner congregation at Thipula, items of clothing, bags of buttons, toys, pencils and various other gift items. In addition we took project funds from a variety of sources and fundraising activities.

All aspects of the itinerary, and more (visits to a Sunday School choir rehearsal and yet more orphan care centres), were covered.  Each morning from 17th – 21st June, the team, along with several members of the community – the Scouts, teachers, pupils, parents and staff from a local orphan care centre, painted classrooms at Bandawe Primary school.  Eleven classrooms in total were painted.

Highlights

There were very many highlights during the trip and they included:

  • The warm and affectionate welcome at the Presbytery of Limphasa.  The Ministers from all of the congregations as well as Session Clerks from all of the presbytery congregations had made a huge effort to come and welcome the 2013 team.  Each presented gifts to the team and shared stories and greetings from their churches.
  • Taking part in worship on the two Sundays whilst we were in Malawi.  The young people of Alloway Church performed songs and dances, which were well received by the congregations.  The girls then taught them to the worshippers.  A particularly poignant moment of the trip was at the School for the Children with Hearing Impairments; our girls performed a signed Praise Dance to the children, to the song “I can only imagine” – a moment that will stay with us forever.
  • The staff at Bandawe Primary School prepared a celebration party for the team at the end of the week of painting classrooms.  A cake was presented, a meal was shared, and gifts were exchanged as well as dancing and singing together.
  • The girls in our team have pen friends at Bandawe All Girls Secondary School; the time they all spent together, privately and publicly will be treasured by all concerned.
  • Although the completion of the mosquito net survey was a difficult task to undertake, the team witnessed the reality of life for many people in Singo village.  They heard stories and spoke with many children who face tremendous difficulties every day.  The team showed great compassion and love to these families, and experienced heartfelt sympathy.
  • Travelling in a small fishing boat along Lake Malawi to visit two prayer houses only accessible by boat.  We were met by many children singing “I have decided to follow Jesus”.  To see the small buildings full of worshippers and church members all singing and dancing to celebrate our arrival was so moving.
  • Watching the girls simply playing and laughing with, and spending time with many, many orphans, sharing God’s love, will be a highlight.
  • Visiting the Church of Scotland HIV project at Ekwendeni Station, learning about their many projects and how they support young people and their families after diagnosis as well as their youth diversion work, was excellent.
  • Seeing the pupils’ faces when they saw their finished painted, clean and welcoming classrooms.  The newly improved learning environment will be a much more suitable place for lessons.  We were delighted to hear that Bandawe PS is a district school which supports nine other primary schools locally; so many more than the 1032 pupils there will benefit from the improved facilities.
  • Before worshipping at Old Bandawe church, we proceeded to the graves of Scottish Missionaries, and laid wreaths made for us by the Women’s Guild.

Memorable Stories

It seemed appropriate to ask the young people about their memorable stories.

Siobhan Carter (17) – Friday 14th June

“The part of my experience I found to be the best was the people and the way they acted.  It was amazing to see how happy and grateful they were for simply our presence.  Children would run after us wanting to hold our hands, and were so grateful for the simplest of things; for example a plastic bag.  These were used to make hats and jewellery by the children.

The people were always so happy even though they didn’t have much, and for that I admire them, and wish that our country would be much more appreciative of what we have.  Malawians are always smiling and full of joy, and I was sad to leave them behind, however, I know that a part of Malawi will always be in my heart.

One family that really touched me was our driver Owen.  He showed us exactly what life was really like out there.  He explained that he had lost his job and that his wife had nearly died; they really didn’t know how they would make it through the year.  It has been his faith that has pulled them through.  They were so grateful for our help.  Owen was happy and full of joy and laughter throughout our visit.”

Jennifer Brash (16) – Tuesday 18th June

“When I was asked to choose my favourite part of the trip to Malawi, I struggled; I really couldn’t decide, it was so hard.

I chose to write about Tiziwane, an orphan care centre beside Bandawe Station; this cause is so very close to my heart, as my mother died when I was six years old.  I was very excited to go there.  Luck, the man who runs the centre, met us as we arrived and showed us around.  It truly is an amazing place.  It looked like a UK nursery, well built and with good equipment.  Tiziwane has a shop and a mini bus hire, which allows them to be pretty much self financing.

After the tour we met the children and played with them.  They managed to rope us into a game of netball, where we managed a draw against a group of 6 – 10 year olds!  Highly embarrassing!  I met a lovely little girl, Alexa; she is one and orphaned by both parents.  She was very interested with my skin.

Over the few hours we were there, Alexa made no sound, she just watched and stroked my skin.  I will never forget this special little girl and this wonderful place, which offers a safe haven for the 100 children they care for.”

Kate Davidson (18) – Wednesday 19th June

“Our visit to Singo village to conduct a mosquito net survey was a difficult and upsetting experience, but a hugely rewarding one that I will never forget.

We joined the anti-malaria committee from Phiri congregation to check the nets that had previously been handed out, checking that they were being used properly and were in a good condition.

This was our first experience in a Malawian village, and although I had an idea of the bad conditions, seeing it first hand was a shock.  The houses had no electricity, so were pitch black, no proper windows and many had just mats on the floor for the families to sleep on.  One mosquito net could be used for up to five or six people, and because of the straw mats they sleep on, holes were easily made at the bottom of the net.  The anti-malaria committee do fix the holes with cotton and needles, but it is very expensive for them.  The situation the people lived in was terrible; one house had only seven children living by themselves, as their mother was in hospital.  Although this was upsetting to see, it really put into perspective how blessed we are.

Even in the terrible conditions they live in, the Malawians still carry on with their lives with a smile on their faces and a joy in their hearts, something we can all learn from, I think.”

Cara Moynihan (17) – Thursday 20th June

“The most poignant moment of the trip for me was our visit to the School for the Hearing Impaired.  These children are outcasts in their villages, as they are labelled ‘useless’ – they are no use to their families; but this school gives them an opportunity to better themselves.  It teaches them a trade, either carpentry, knitting or sewing, so that when they return to their village they are an asset, not the burden as they had been perceived previously.

The realisation that the school is completely free to all students who attend was another amazing surprise for me.  Every child boards for free as well.  The welcome we received from the children was overwhelming; they sang, danced and performed a play for us.  It was also the most enthusiastic and genuine reaction I saw from any of the children when we presented sweets and toys.

It is a truly astonishing place, full of laughter and joy, which is infectious.  I left this school with a newfound faith in humanity.  This school makes some income itself, but relies on others for their support.  People in Malawi saw a great need for schools such as this in their country, and so teachers work tirelessly to teach these children skills that they can use to further help the community.

My time at the School for the Hearing Impaired really touched me, and I feel it is a project that shows the kind and supportive sense of community that I witnessed throughout my time in the Warm heart of Africa.”

Rebecca Faulkner (17) – Thursday 20th June

“Although the trip had its emotionally tough times, it was impossible to ignore the energy and excitement of the people.  We started our “Celebrations” at Bandawe Primary School with a meal then lots of dancing with the teachers, who all have such rhythm, unlike us Scots!

It was overwhelming and amazing to see Mabel the Head teacher, and Happy, the Depute Head getting involved.  We exchanged many gifts and were all dressed up in tjenges, local colourful cloths used as aprons and headgear.  We were gifted a cake too – it was delicious.  The party finished with all of the guests in a circle, and we taught them Auld Lang Syne.

The celebrations continued on the Friday morning when the children performed some poems, African dances and songs at an assembly under the mango trees.  I loved how grateful they were for the work we did at their school.

Another highlight of my trip was getting to spend some time with our pen friends at their school.  When they turned up at our lodge on the Thursday evening we had such a surprise.  I felt so lucky to meet Memory.  We exchanged gifts.  Everyone was laughing.  Memory and I got on so well, she cried when we had to say goodbye.  I hope to keep in touch with her, and that one day we can meet again.  Part of me definitely fell in love with Malawi and its gracious and faithful people.”

Fiona McKechnie (18) – Saturday 22nd June

“Chisangawe Prayer House was one of my highlights.  The boat trip to Chisangawe was full of beautiful views, and gave us a time to reflect on our time in Malawi.  When we arrived we were welcomed like family by the congregation, who joined us for the walk up the hill to the prayer house.

This gave us time to stretch our legs and see the stunning scenery Malawi has.

The Youth Fellowship displayed their amazing songs and dances, and were eager for us to join in.  They were also most surprised and grateful for the gifts we gave.

We were also meant to spend some time at Sanje Prayer House too, however many of our group were motion sick, so our time there was cut short.  The silver lining was the opportunity for 4 out of the 8 in the group to take guesses at how many times Rev Cyrus Chimaliro would be sick.  Rebecca won with 10!”

Lessons Learnt

We learned so much about faith, hope and love throughout our time in Malawi.  Regardless of the deprivation and poverty that Malawians experience, their faith in God never diminishes.   They appreciate all that is done for them by their partner churches here in Scotland.

There are many cultural differences, particularly in the treatment of women and young girls.  We sometimes found this hard to witness, and yet it is important to be respectful at all times.

It is important that we continue to constantly monitor our partner projects and, God willing, to do so in person on a regular basis.

It was felt by the team that the painting of the classrooms would not have been done without the initiative by Alloway Church.  There is no maintenance programme for schools in Malawi.  For many people it was their first opportunity to paint.  We should consider practical assistance in this way in the future.

Achievements

  • The painting of eleven classrooms at Bandawe Primary School, vastly improving the learning environment of the 1032 pupils, as well as those children from the district schools that use Bandawe’s facilities.
  • The sample mosquito net survey was carried out as required by The Against Malaria Foundation following the provision of 2000 nets through them in 2010. This task had a profound impact on the team members who carried it out, seeing the reality of extremely poor rural family houses.
  • The team was able to visit the many projects our Presbytery supports, to evaluate them on behalf of the individual churches, and agree where support should focus next.
  • Spending time with friends in Malawi, sharing life experiences and faith stories, growing the faith of the young people in the team.
  • Showing our young people how privileged and fortunate they are to have families who love and care for them, and support them in so many ways.

Prospects/Actions for the Future

We have been asked by many organisations to give presentations and talks about the visit, enabling us to lift the profile of the Presbytery Covenant of Partnership, and all of the fantastic work the church partnerships have undertaken.

Alloway Parish Church, Overseas Mission Committee had asked us to look at specific projects that they are considering supporting in the near future – the construction of toilets at Thipula church; repair and maintenance of the windows at Bandawe Primary school, the building of a kitchen and dining shelter at Bandawe All Girls Secondary School.  Many photographs have been taken, as well as detailed discussions, which will be reported back to them.

We were able to identify, with the Head Teachers of Bandawe All Girls Secondary School, a further six girls who are in desperate need of financial support in order that they may continue their education.  This information has been taken back to the Overseas Mission Committee.

Alloway and Doonfoot Primary Schools, in the Parish of Alloway, have given much support to Bandawe Primary School over the past six years.  We brought back letters to pupils here in P5, 6 and 7.  This relational work is so important to the continued partnership and linking of these very diverse education facilities.  We have been able to feedback information from staff and pupils about how the support of our schools has greatly improved the learning environment in Bandawe, which in turn has increased the academic success of the school.  We were able to identify future possible focuses, namely toilets, as the pupils have none at the moment that they are able to use.

Whilst visiting Chanawaka nursery we left small gifts of pencils and colouring books for the children there from the nurseries here in the parish.  We would like to look into the possibility of sending feeding cups to the children, along with decorated T shirts.  A meeting has been arranged with the staff here at the beginning of the next school term.

We were able to establish contact with the Anti Malaria staff at Nkhata Bay hospital, and hope to purchase malaria nets following a Christmas card initiative within the Presbytery of Ayr.

At the end of the trip we had a small surplus of funds.  We arranged for 50 student solar lamps to be purchased and distributed to Bandawe All Girls Secondary School, Bandawe Primary School, and Bandawe School for the Hearing Impaired, through the Head Teacher of the Deaf School, Mr Andrews Chulu.  We await confirmation that this has been done.

We will discuss with the 100th Ayrshire (Alloway) Scout group, about the possibility of them supplying Bandawe Scout Group with neckerchiefs.  They currently have none.

 

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF PAINTED CLASSROOMS

 

Before and after pictures of painted classrooms

Before and after pictures of painted classrooms

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