Our 2019 Archives
As the Foundation continues to grow and advance we have moved some of the older updates to an archive. You can see here how the projects have developed.
Our name has now been changed officially to The William Stewart Foundation. The words ‘hope for the hopeless’ have been omitted from the title for several reasons, the main one being that now the people of Ibuluma have hope which we intend, as time goes on, to spread on a wider scale.
Sophie’s Skills Shed
The Skills Shed is so well used and so loved that the children wanted to decorate it even more colourfully. So Levison and helpers Agrey and Cyrus drew some lovely images on the outside while Bridget added some names of those who are no longer with us to the inside walls.
The Foundation’s New Foundations
Foundations for a new building have been laid on the new piece of ground gifted by the Chiefs. Levison bought brickmaking pans; bricks have been made, a kiln built, and the bricks fired. We are still awaiting news, favourable or otherwise, of a funding application made last year and so are not committing as yet to what the building will be. It has been made safe from the impending Malawian rains and so we can wait until the rainy season is over before deciding on its use.
The vegetable garden is doing very well as can be seen in the photos.
Some of the children are taking agricultural lessons and are very proud of the work they're doing in the garden. Levison started with twelve but other, smaller children, followed and wanted to learn, and help, and so Levison let them stay.
The agricultural team is headed up by Timothy Kaonga. Recently Stuart and Sarah sent out forks and trowels for the children to use.
The tomatoes, mustard and carrots are growing very well. John Curtis, after whom the garden is named as he has sent and continues to send many seeds and bulbs, said when he saw the photos of the kids cultivating:
‘What I so love about this is the way, in such a short time, these youngsters have changed so much, from being truly hopeless to being so optimistic for the future, This is why we do what we do.’
We also have green maize and pumpkins growing well. Pumpkin leaves are also used in Malawi because they are high in vitamins and minerals. The leaves are boiled either on their own or with groundnut flour and tomatoes and made into a groundnut stew to eat with nsima.
Normally, because the leaves are picked, the pumpkins don't get a chance to flower and fruit, but Levison left some to do just that and about 60 pumpkins grew. And so he is going to grow more next time and more children will join the cultivation team.
The green maize is doing well, too. This is the expression used to distinguish from maize which is allowed to ripen brown and then be harvested and milled. The maize has been irrigated so that it keeps green and fresh and will produce corn on the cob.
Food, Skills and Fun
The children love reading books. At the moment Levison keeps the books in the Stores but brings them out when the children gather at the weekends. When the main Resource Centre is able to be built, which will house the Library, it will contain so much reading material. Look at the joy on the faces of the kids who, previously, had maybe seen textbooks only in their schools.
The toys and art materials are brought out too. The older children love the educational toys, some of which encourage manual dexterity, and team effort too.
There are regularly in excess of 500 children who come to the Resource Centre at the weekends, some of whom walk long distances.
Here are a couple of photos of one of the gatherings. The children are fed in sessions, starting with the youngest and Levison has made twenty of them captains so that they can help the younger ones.
The kids, the boys in particular, love football. Here are some gathered early in the day. They've found the ball and are demanding to play their favourite game.
The Big Switch On has been delayed while the Electricity Board gathers in details of all those needing to be put on to the system. But it’s coming and we hope that there will be light before Christmas. That would be a wonderful present for the Foundation.
Special Birthday Celebrations
For Emma Buchanan
Emma was a very courageous girl who lived with her parents and elder sister in Balfron. She was a real fighter, but she lost her battle with cystic fibrosis at the age of 15. On 17th November she would have celebrated her 21st birthday.
Her school had a partnership with one in Northern Malawi and Emma had learned a lot about the country and the problems of poverty which her African peers had to contend with. It had been her wish to go to Malawi and do what she could to help. Sadly, this was not to be, but her family gave some beautiful wording to accompany a fundraiser for the Foundation, which was replicated in an article in the Stirling Observer and so a party was held in Emma’s honour, to celebrate her heavenly birthday.
Emma’s photo is already in the Skills Shed and a rainbow had been painted above it, so the children already knew a little about her.
On the day they learned a lot more; they were saddened to hear how she had died at such a young age and their sadness can be seen in the photos, but they were made happy again when Levison said that he was sure that Emma would know that her friends in Malawi were celebrating with her. Some of the girls went and collected hibiscus flowers for her.
The children had a party and had a special treat of doughnuts as well as their main meal. They all sang happy birthday to Emma; they held their banners proudly and they hope that you enjoy seeing how they celebrated the special day of the girl from Scotland who, although she didn’t get in person to Malawi, will be remembered because her name will live on, in the Foundation’s Library.
For William and Mary
At the end of September there were celebrations for the birthdays of William and Mary. A little under 700 children from far and wide walked in to wish them a happy birthday. By 10.00 am there were over a hundred. They trickled in, in groups of twos and threes, and by lunchtime there was a multitude. We fed them all and then the gifts remaining from the huge Christmas delivery were handed out, and more soap and exercise books purchased locally, so that each child had a present.
After lunch they played games, sang and danced and all had a wonderful time and another day to remember.
Maize and groundnuts have been harvested and processed.
The John Curtis Vegetable Garden
Named after a very good friend of the Foundation who lived and worked in Africa for over 40 years, the John Curtis Vegetable Garden is thriving.
The sowing has been staggered so that cropping is, too. Sweet potatoes in a separate five-acre field are currently being cropped and the photos in the gallery show some of the children who are being taught agriculture learning how to lift them properly and all about the growing of them.
Mustard, rape and first crop tomatoes are growing well. And there are second crop tomatoes and carrots which have been sown in drills. Photos here...
The Foundation Flock, which has been added to, is doing well; the hens are producing even more eggs. The Herd is well and happy and so are the children who look after the goats as part of their agricultural training.
Food, Skills and Fun
The Resource Centre is used every Saturday and Sunday, and some days in between when the children are on holiday. Numbers are increasing as news of the Foundation’s work spreads; there are now regularly more than 600 children, many of whom walk for miles to eat, to learn and to play.
However, Levison and his team have been able to feed all those in need, although the feeding of the children has had to take priority over some other aspects, primarily the sending out of goods to Ibuluma which will be resumed when money received allows.
The children have been learning new skills, and enjoying games and artistry.
We couldn’t resist giving a couple of clues in the last August update. We have been so excited, in Malawi and the UK, that electrification is finally going ahead. Please see the Special Newsletter for how this has all happened so quickly.
The dream is fast becoming reality and we look forward to the next update - The Big Light Up event.
There are some very exciting happenings currently at the Resource Centre and we will enlighten everyone about these as soon as we’re able. In the UK and in Ibuluma we’re alight with activity, hence the brevity of some of the updates to the website. We will keep all our Foundation friends in the dark no longer than we must.
UK - Friends of the William Stewart Centre Malawi
The UK charity now has its bank account, and the necessary documentation has been sent to HMRC to register for tax relief/gift aid. This is likely to take some weeks. In the meantime we have amended the Donations section (Get Involved) to reflect the changes.
The charity has a facebook page to highlight the work it is doing to raise awareness and to fundraise for the Foundation.
Granted Charitable Status in Scotland
We said in April that The Friends of the William Stewart Centre, Malawi had applied for charitable status and are delighted to learn that this has been granted, the charity being registered on 28 May 2019 under the number SCO49329. All the paperwork will now be prepared to open a bank account, apply to HMRC for Gift Aid and then more funding applications will be able to be made and donations can be given straight into the account.
During next year’s rainy season, the Ibuluma villages will be very colourful – there will be what we call our ‘daffodils’ and our ‘purple crocuses’ – Foundation children wearing ponchos to keep them dry as they walk to school, many trekking long distances and through difficult terrain.
Some yellow ponchos were kindly donated last year by M & D – Scotland’s largest theme park – more photos of the children wearing them can be seen in Gallery 5. Someone said the children look just like daffodils. It’s apt because the children are blooming.
Recently, we have been gifted an amazing number of purple ponchos by Chestertons, a very old established estate agency in London, now an international property company and who are our newest Corporate Friends of the Foundation.
When Giles Milner, Marketing Director, learned from Sarah about the work which is taking place to support the children, he sent two boxes, each containing 250 ponchos. Because Chestertons have undergone a rebranding, he also sent some of the newly branded ones. These went out by air so that photos could be taken, and the others will go by sea.
There are more photos of the ‘crocuses’ in Gallery 5. When the rains loom next year welook forward to bringing you photos of all the children proudly wearing their ponchos, and keeping nice and dry so that they don’t have to sit all day, soaked to the skin, in unheated schools.
Thank you, Chestertons
Even since writing our last update, the number of children flocking to the Resource Centre has increased. The Foundation is now regularly receiving 500+ children, some of them walking 17 km to get here. They are not all orphans although many are, but they are all in need of physical, mental and spiritual nourishment.
We have put out an appeal for funding linked to this year’s Father’s Day and End of School term and Sarah has opened a Go Fund Me page for this purpose.
We have included some of the photos of the Easter celebrations, which were held a little late because of a funeral, but the children were off school anyway, and they had a wonderful time. More of the gifts which had been handed to them incrementally since December were given out - warm blankets and clothing as Malawi is now going into its cold season. And there is a new and very heartwarming video on our Youtube channel - Raising Up Ibuluma Children.
As Sarah said in her part of the April Newsletter, for her 50th birthday in January she did a birthday fundraiser and was able to send £500 to the Foundation, part to enable tables and benches for the Skills Shed to be made, and part to empower local women.
Yesterday (30/4) Levison invited half a dozen ladies to the Resource Centre, and handed them the money. They were overwhelmed and asked that their grateful thanks be passed to Sarah for her generosity and that of the folk who donated to her fundraiser.
The ladies will think, together, about what they can do to start a small cottage industry; they have already had one or two ideas.
The Foundation Chicken Flock
The first 30 hens have been moved to their new home and are now feeding and clucking happily.
Four were left in the temporary quarters as they are sitting on eggs, and another 12 will be brought in shortly.
The children had a great time learning about how to take care of chooks and more of them will be taught in the weeks and months to follow.
The Holligan Hen House was named after Stuart Black's aunt and uncle, Margaret and Allan Holligan, who donated so generously to the Foundation.
Sadly we received news that Allan, who was 86, passed away on 24 April. We send our sincere condolences to Margaret, her family, and to Stuart. Allan's name will live on in Malawi.
We’ve been very aware that we’ve been hampered by not having charitable status in the UK. It’s not quite so easy to fundraise; there are many funding bodies which we can’t apply to; links which are not so easily made and more difficulty in sending to Malawi than would be the case if we did have charitable status and our own bank account.
As more work has been completed, and more evidence of the benefits to those people whom the Foundation is helping have become available, we have decided that it’s time to remedy that omission, and yesterday (3 April) an application was made to OSCR – the Scottish charity regulator – for SCIO status (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation).
The SCIO has been applied for in the name of Friends of The William Stewart Centre, Malawi. It will have four initial Trustees, and will be headed up by Sarah, its Development Manager. Sarah will be the only Trustee from the Foundation’s core team.
It will be a completely separate entity from the Foundation and its sole function will be to raise funds for, and awareness of, the Foundation.
There is a Facebook page. We welcome all our Foundation facebook friends to this page, too.
Part of the document detailing the existing activities contained a report compiled by Sarah Black and Levison Mlambya using the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child’s SHANARRI indicators, which demonstrates the beneficial impact which the work being carried out by the Foundation has had on the children. Here is the document.
The Foundation Farm
The Foundation Chicken Flock
Some chickens and cockerels have already been purchased. They are being housed in temporary quarters until their permanent accommodation is ready.
The Holligan Hen House, as it is named, after a very generous couple, is getting there, despite Levison and the building team being hampered by very bad weather.
There is not much left to be done and soon we will bring photos of the flock in their new abode.
Faith with Action
The Resource Centre isn’t just for the children. In fact there are plans in process for the use of Sophie’s Skills Shed while the kids are at school but we will bring news of that down the line.
The Centre is also for the elderly, a place to come and meet – their place too.
In February, 26 folk who were able-bodied enough came for their first gift-giving. There are 47 elderlies who were not fit enough to make it and they will be visited on outreaches.
Many of the elderly folk cried when they received items of clothing and footwear and they asked time and again that the people who had donated be thanked.
Some of the elderlies look after orphans, either their own grandchildren or those of others – they realise that they, too, will have some joy in their lives.
One of the ladies – on the right in the group photo and who was given the pink shoes – is Gogo Nambeye who was one of the first elderly people whom Levison visited just after the Foundation began. She was pictured crying with disbelief when Levison cycled on that little child’s pushbike to give her some soap, sugar and salt. That photo can be seen in Gallery 1. Gogo is well into her 80s and looks after her grandson.
Faith with Action
Special New Year Outreach
On New Years Day Levison went on a special outreach to see Happy, the little boy who is paralysed, whom we met some months ago in the video, and his family, to give them gifts.
The video, and Happy’s smiling face, brought so much feedback, and folk wanted to donate gifts for him and his family to make their life easier.
They sent Terry nappies, waterproof pants, sudocream, soap, solar light, blankets, clothes, and a selection of toys to help engage him as his mother is unable to get him to school, given the roughness of the terrain. Sarah and Stuart bought him a chair, in which you can see him sitting contentedly.
His mother was overjoyed and she cried with tears of happiness.
On 3 January, Levison went out very early on outreach to Matilda’s family. You will remember Matilda from her work in the fields with her baby by her side, and the scenes in the video of several outreaches where Matilda was overwhelmed by the gifts to her and her family. Some folk were so taken with Matilda that they sent gifts especially for her and her two children Victor and Desire and also for her parents. So it was these which Levison was taking to them at the first opportunity as Matilda's Dad is too infirm to have got to the opening day. We think Desire looks wonderful if a little uncertain about her hat. There were clothes, blankets, and toiletries and Matilda has passed her thanks via Levison to the donors.
Pictured in the photos are Matilda, her children, and her mother.
The Foundation Farm
The harvest from the Foundation’s first year’s planting exceeded all expectations. There were 62 50kg bags of maize, three 50kg bags of groundnuts, and three 20 litre tins of soybeans.
The Foundation now has a goat and she has had a kid. We called the goat Sarah (yes after our Sarah and our Sarah is shortly going to run a competition at one of the local schools to name the kid) – the start of the Foundation Goat Herd.
In the New Year we will be purchasing the first of the Foundation Flock, so that eggs and chicken meat are available, and surplus can be sold in the shop.
Dambo planting will begin in late October, for vegetables, the nursery having already been prepared. And it’s hoped that the fish pond will be started in November; conversations have already begun with fisheries who are prepared to supply the first pond stock.
The maize crops are coming on beautifully; the children will be well fed this year too.