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Edinburgh Kiltwalk 18th Sept 2022

Three women who are the MMF Kiltwalk team in Edinburgh

Team Mamie Martin are back at the Kiltwalk and this time it’s a 14 mile walk around Edinburgh. Three amazing women are walking for MMF. Kathleen Sargeant was a member of the Falkirk High School visit to Bandawe Girls’ School (BAGSS) in 2008. She is now a volunteer with MMF. Angela Hoey, is a new friend of Mariot’s and the MMF. Their connection is their daughter and son’s long-term relationship. The three women have plenty of motivation for this challenge. Kathleen still remembers her time in Malawi with the schoolgirls of BAGSS, Mariot has the family connection through her mother Margaret and grandmother, Mamie Martin. Angela is looking forward to the personal challenge, ‘This Sunday is something for me to do something that when I achieve it will make me feel very proud of myself

The team are looking forward to an enjoyable walk, interesting chat to help pass the time, guilt free chocolate consumption, but most of all, another opportunity to raise funds for the work of MMF in Malawi. All money raised will be topped up by the Sir Tom Hunter Foundation. If you’d like to make a donation, click for their team page.

MMF photo exhibition doing ‘the rounds’

We are delighted that the photos of our work in Malawi are now in their fourth venue in Lancashire, England. Our partners there, the Lancashire West Methodist Circuit, are ensuring that as many people as possible get to hear about our work.

Our Lancashire West partnership supports six girls at secondary school in Karonga, North Malawi. Those girls will be going into their second year (of four) in October. The photos are currently being shown in Holmes Methodist Church. Three other churches are involved with Holmes in this particular exhibition, which runs until 5th September –

You can see the locations and further details of these churches on the Circuit’s website. A ‘Circuit’ in this context is a group of Methodist churches. Our partnership is with the group, rather than any individual church.

Thanks to Helen Hindle for creating this lovely display and sending us these images. Next stop for this exhibition will be Dalgety Bay in Fife, Scotland.

Working together to support jobs in Malawi

Rachel Farey, business manager of the One World Shop in Edinburgh is our guest blogger this week. She writes about her pleasure at being introduced to Malawian company, Kibébé, by the Mamie Martin Fund. After some challenging times, Kibébé products arrived in the Edinburgh shop this month. 

“In the One World Shop we stock the hugely popular Kilombero rice from Malawi and have long wanted to have more Malawian products. In October 2019, MMF introduced us to Kibébé. We loved their products and immediately wanted to buy them for our shop. However various personal and global events intervened and it seemed that this dream was not to come true. We held onto that vision and after some great help from Kibébé and encouragement from MMF we were thrilled to receive these fabulous products in time to display them in our special Edinburgh Festival marquee, outside the shop. They are already proving very popular with our customers.

Kibébé  products are hand made by artizans living in and around Dzaleka refugee camp. Kibébé pay fair wages and this work is life-changing for the producers. All Kibébé products are of the highest quality – well-made and sturdy. The range held in the One World Shop includes soap, bags, journal covers, face masks and accessories. It wasn’t easy to get these products to Edinburgh so hurry to check them out while they last.

It is great to see the result of three NGOs working together – all to benefit people in Malawi for whom this work means dignity, education and hope.” 

In her spare time Rachel enjoys taking part in MMF cycling events and we’ve had a lot of fun together, raising money for girls’ education in Malawi.

One World Shop’s Opening hours during August: Mon – Sunday 10am – 6pm. Tel: 0131 229 4541

Email: Rachel@oneworldshop.co.uk

The power of working together

We are pleased to share this guest blog post from Denis Robson, Chair of the Thondwe Community Partnership, another Scotland-Malawi link:

“As a long-standing member of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, we regularly meet with organisations that are equally passionate about programmes in health, education, and economic development. As we were expanding our collaboration with Thondwe Primary school we were thrilled when a networking opportunity brought us into contact with Moira Dunworth who was very willing to share the Mamie Martin Fund (MMF)’s knowledge and expertise in girls’ education in Malawi with us. As a very small team looking to seek out others with a common aim, our connection with MMF provided an opportunity to rapidly learn, improve outcomes and avoid duplication.

The girls heading to secondary school in 2022, supported by the Thondwe Community Partnership

By collaborating we can increase the exposure needed to grow girls’ education in Malawi and as we gain experience perhaps we can combine knowledge to help solve problems together. We quickly discovered that we needed to do more than pay school fees to ensure successful educational outcomes. Your Ready to Learn Fund is essential. Our GET-IT (Girls’ Education in Thondwe) programme now has 5 girls. Apatseni, Debora, Brenda, Mary and Margaret successfully completing their first year at a local Community Day school and a Boarding school. Learning from your experience, we are setting up a mentorship programme. The first step of this is that the Head Teacher of Thondwe Primary school, Annie Siyani, will mentor these 5 girls as part of our Partnership’s support.”

It is a joy for MMF to be able to share our experience and to discuss these issues with like-minded people in Scotland and Malawi. We are delighted to have been able to help the Thonde Partnership with the planning of GET-IT. We wish their pupils every success.

The impact of our work on two very different pupils

MMF Treasurer, Alan Laverock, has recently returned from Malawi. MMF girls are selected on the basis of need, not academic ability. He was struck by two particular girls, whose stories demonstrate the range of needs we meet:

“Mary came to speak to us privately, after we had spoken to the group of MMF girls. She was visibly upset, barely able to speak. Eventually, it was clear that the issue was that her aunt was putting pressure on her to get married. This would entail giving up her education – and she was now in Form 3 (of 4). The income from her marriage would help her gogo (grandmother) and ‘this is your duty’. The girl knows the value of her education and really does not want to lose this with one year to go.

We were able to affirm her in her belief in the value of an education and to assure her that the fees were in place for Form 4. We also told the headteacher (with Mary’s permission). She will keep an eye on the situation. Sadly, she has experience of this.

Martha presented herself for the end of Form 4 feedback interview with Mercy. Her brilliance shone through like a searchlight and was truly uplifting. She is keen to be a doctor. We are convinced she has what it takes to succeed. Not only does Malawi have a shortage of educated women, there is a chronic shortage of doctors.

These are two fantastic examples of the difference that donations to MMF are making. Thank you all.”

Note: names changed.

Sharing news of our work

Six schoolgirls in Karonga, North Malawi, are being supported by the Lancashire West Methodist Circuit, through MMF. Our photo exhibition is a popular way of telling the story of girls’ education in Malawi, why it is important and how MMF can help. It’s great to see the sharing of news of these girls in the churches of that Circuit.

On two Sundays in July, Croston Methodist Church invited other churches and the local communities to see the photos and celebrate the work that we are doing together. Dilys Lightfoot reports on those events:

“During the service we sang as a reflection Dzuma Lapita (Night has fallen ). It’s a Malawian song sung at evening time. It was adapted by Tom Colvin, another Scottish minister who had worked in Africa.

We finished with a few quotes about education starting with the MMF strapline, “Educating Girls, Empowering Malawi.”  One photograph shows a few of the congregation around the quotation board. Grace, the young girl in the photos, read the Tibetan Proverb ,”A child without education is like a bird without wings“. I felt this particularly potent as she has come with her mum from Hong Kong leaving her dad and all her grandparents so she can have a freethinking education without the fear of suppression. I am just in awe of both of them and the sacrifices her family, too, have made in Hong Kong. Grace hasn’t seen her father for nearly two years. They came with very little English and none of her mum’s part.

The exhibition has been available to all our groups that use the building, also to the public. Today [31st July] we held a joint service with Mawdesley Methodist church so that they, too, could see the exhibition and we showed them the videos at end of the service over coffee.  

At our special service on 24th July many of us wrote an ‘hello’ message to Mercy and the girls. At the moment I’m getting help trying to put it in a digital book to email to you which I hope you can pass on to Mercy.”

Dilys is sending us the paper version too, which we will pass onto Mercy in Malawi. She will share those greetings with the girls at St Mary’s Karonga.

We are so glad of this success of this new partnership and the way in which news of our work is being shared in a new part of the UK.  

Note: ‘Grace’ is not the real name of the young girl described above. In line with our safeguarding policy, as well as changing her name, her face is blurred out in the photos.

Donations to this partnership fund are welcome through this fundraising page

The importance of role modelling

We’ve heard so often about the lack of role models for girls in Malawi, in the north in particular. It’s hard for them to aspire to a job or profession if they have never met anyone doing that job. The schools tell us that this is badly needed but that they can’t afford to bring people in to speak to the classes – the transport itself is too big a cost.

So, when we decided to commission a photographer with a grant we had received, we were clear that the photographer must be a woman. There are very few female photographers in Malawi, we learnt. However we did find Nerani Nthara and she visited two of our schools this month. The photos which she will provide will be very useful for our website. They will also be a valuable aid in our reporting to donors and supporters. Another important outcome, and one written into the brief, is that the pupils meet this young professional woman and see her working.

Nerani engaged with the girls to show them what she was doing and explain photography to them. We loved these action shots and can’t wait for the final photos.

Keeping up family connections along Offa’s Dyke

Alastair Cuthbertson is a nephew of Mamie Martin, a first cousin of Mamie’s daughter, Margaret. He and his wife, Carol, are loyal supporters of the Mamie Martin Fund (MMF), carrying on Mamie’s vision.

Alastair and Carol have taken part in the MMF cycling projects over the last couple of years. Now in their 80s, they appreciate their ebikes for these adventures. This year, Carol is walking rather than cycling. She identified Offa’s Dyke as her #borders22 route. This is the boundary of Wales and England. Carol is not able to walk this in reality so she is doing it virtually in the Chilterns, England, where they live. Similarly, Sally Macpherson has walked the Berlin Walk in and around Edinburgh as part of #borders22.

Carol started this walk in April and updated us in July:

“The total length of Offa’s Dyke Path is 176.3 miles. So far I have walked 130 miles. 

Aerial view of Offa’s Dyke

Apart from a weekly walk starting from my friend’s house, all the walks have been from home, not more than 2 or 3 miles each time, so it’s taking a while! I tend to go in the afternoon. I have been having fun tying the Dyke walk with local points of interest.”

Carol writes up her walks on a regular basis and these appear in her blog on the MMF website. We think that she is very cool to have her own blog. Mamie Martin would have loved it. She kept a diary and would certainly be a blogger if she were alive today.

Farfetched – a book about poems in other languages

Daphne Loads takes part in our activity projects each year. She rides a trike around East Lothian. Her plan in #borders22 is to trike a star of East Lothian and you can read her blog about it on that page. As well as thinking about borders, she had been thinking about language borders, as it were. She has just published a book about poems in foreign languages. She is donating all the proceeds to MMF and she says this about the book and about why she is making this generous donation:

Farfetched is a book about reading poetry in different languages: what we notice and what we miss, and how poems can help us to make sense of our experiences. I loved writing it, and I hope people will enjoy reading it.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without access to good teachers, books and libraries. What if I had been told “you can’t go to secondary school because we don’t have enough money, and anyway you’re a girl …” That’s what happened to my mother; and that’s why all the proceeds from Farfetched are going to the Mamie Martin Fund.”

The book can be purchased in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon.

Remember that if you buy any product through Amazon Smile and have selected MMF as your charity we get a % of each of your Amazon purchases. Click here for Daphne’s book.

Mrs Vera Chirwa – a tribute on Independence Day

On Malawi Independence Day, we honour our Malawian Patron, Vera Chirwa. She was born in Malawi (then Nyasaland) in 1932, the decade after Mamie and Jack’s time. Vera was the only girl at her primary and secondary school and went on to train as a teacher and lawyer. She was the first Malawian woman to qualify as a lawyer. Throughout her life she campaigned and worked for human rights. When we campaign today for the education of girls, we talk and write freely and seldom face personal danger as a result. Vera and Orton Chirwa, her husband, campaigned for Malawian independence in the 1950s, eventually facing a death sentence and years of exile and imprisonment. Vera was later released but Orton died in prison.

Vera’s autobiography Fearless Fighter tells her story and the story of Malawian independence. It’s a great book. Let’s remember that at the beginning of her great achievements and adventures, there was a grandmother who insisted that Vera was a girl who should go to school. In the Mamie Martin Fund, we are committed to helping girls in Malawi go to school, so that they can play their part in the development of their communities and their country.

Photo: Vera on her 90th birthday