western Isles based Mary AC McElligott has been visiting Malawi since 2008 and has been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of islanders who have supported the work being done there.
“This small school in Southern Malawi provides primary education for approx 550 pupils who all live in one of the poorest areas just outside the town of Blantyre.
With some Midwife colleagues I visited Blantyre annually to teach medical staff and midwives how to prevent and manage childbirth emergencies. This course was supported by the Scottish Government as Malawi has the second highest rate in the world for mother and infant deaths. The children who live long enough to attain school age have already survived extreme poverty and hunger and two of us asked to visit a school in November 2008. My colleague Angela and I were humbled by the teachers and pupils who achieve high standards with very little resources but the point we most remembered was that many children could not come to school as they were too hungry. They had to assist their family in foraging for food before they could walk across the dry dusty ground to school. Angela and I pledged to help them and sought assistance from Scottish charities.
On 23rd December 2009 Mary’s Meals charity agreed to build a feeding station with this agreement dependant on the full building costs of £7000 being met and also to support the feeding programme costs for the next three years.
As I live and work in Western Isles I published the project locally and was overwhelmed by the support I received from the island people. My colleagues in Western Isles Hospital suggested fundraising ideas and assisted in planning three main activities. The surgical ward nurses led by Mary bell raised the magnificent sum of £1850 by raffling a Christmas hamper and donating their secret Santa funds. In May we ran a very successful family Ceilidh with all the local artistes performing free of charge and the evening enjoyed by all ages. With staff donated goods for a bottle stall and the evenings catering provisions donated by local firms, we raised a further £1500. The third event in August was two days of bag packing in Tesco’s store which was also well supported by local people and raised a further £2000. So all in all the money to build this feeding station was mainly raised locally and I wish to thank every person who has supported this venture. You may have actively supported the activities or just donated but our feeding station opened on July 5th this year, just seven months after we started fundraising. This magnificent achievement means that the children can now attend school as they have a maize porridge breakfast each morning. Some of them even have desks to sit at and another charity World Challenge also visited in July and helped the school committee with essential repair and paint works.
The fundraising continues but as I will leave Stornoway at the end of the year the main events will be held on the mainland. On behalf of these children I thank the people of the islands for all their support and generosity which has made it possible for them to gain an education. Mary’s meals works to support many children across the world, this wee school is only one of many who need your help. It costs £6.15 to feed a child for a year in Malawi and I thank all of you who are supporting them via the direct debit donations.”