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Do one action today for girls’ education

Faith Banda, ex-pupil of MMF

Today is International Women’s Day. One of the major issues in today’s world is that of girls’ access to education. It is easy to be so upset about issues like this, that we feel helpless and hopeless. But you can do one powerful thing today to help girls get an education. You can leave a bequest in your Will to the Mamie Martin Fund or any other organisation which supports girls’ and women’s education around the world.

That’s it. Simple. We provide a template for a codicil on our website. We received a bequest from a long-standing supporter this week and this will enable us to provide a full secondary education for extra pupils in Malawi. What a wonderful legacy. You could be part of a girl’s future too.

The Head Teacher of Kaseye Girls’ Secondary School tells us why we must all support girls’ education:

Scottish Parliament support for MMF on IWD

On this International Women’s Day, we are grateful to Dr Alasdair Allan, MSP, for lodging the following motion in the Scottish Parliament. We are humbled to be recognised in this way on such an important day for women around the world. The motion text is:

That the Parliament congratulates the Mamie Martin Fund on the celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2023; understands that this small Scottish charity has been supporting girls’ education in Northern Malawi since its inception in 1993 in memory of Mamie Martin, who worked for gender equality in education in Malawi in the 1920s; considers that the issue of girls’ education is now more topical than ever; further considers that girls’ education is vital to the development of any nation; believes that International Women’s Day is particularly important in many areas of the world in 2023, and wishes the Mamie Martin Fund success in its work this year and in the future.

Welcome to our new Trustee, Fran

We are delighted to welcome Fran Coates onto our Board. Fran got involved with MMF when she enrolled in ‘Borders22’ last year and took her MMF tee-shirt across Europe on an 8-month trip from Saint-Malo to the Black Sea. She introduces herself:

“Since retiring as a Sign Language interpreter (SLi) in 2019 I have made two long cycle/camping trips around Europe.

The second was avidly followed and supported, for the full 8 months, by the MMF Borders 22 team. There are not the words to express what a boost this was during my trip, lifting me out of the lows, thankfully of which not too many, and celebrating the highs. Upon my return I have been invited to join the Board of Trustees, an honour I have proudly accepted.

Prior to my career as an SLi I worked in IT support, therefore I hope my skills can help maintain and enhance the development of this wonderful charity.”

Thanks for this on-going support, Fran. We know that you will be a great help to MMF in a number of ways. Now, get on with cycling those 30 bridges as part of your #Birthday30 pledge!

Fran and her bike enjoying Yorkshire bridges

Birthday donations – an inspiring story

Elizabeth first heard about the Mamie Martin Fund through ‘Story on Bikes’ in 2020. She is now a regular participant in our cycling projects. She took a break from cycling for MMF in 2021 when she created 100 gorgeous embroidered cards as part of #Pledge100.

When Elizabeth had a significant birthday this year, she requested charity donations instead of gifts. She feels that she has enough ‘things’. She nominated the MMF as one of two favourite charities and raised over £100 for girls’ education in Malawi through her generous friends. What a lovely idea!

If you would like to do something like this and need any help, get in touch. We’ve not been able to register as a charity with Facebook (because of being a Scottish charity) so it can’t be done on there, but you can publicise it on any platform. We can let you have info leaflets and support you on ‘the socials’.

Meanwhile, enjoy the photos of some of Elizabeth’s contributions to the funding of our work for girls in secondary school in Malawi.

Elizabeth cycled the boundary of Galloway in Scotland during a week of gales for #Borders22

Ex-pupil to run MMF’s Instagram

On International Education Day, we are happy to announce that a young woman who was supported at school by the Mamie Martin Fund is taking over our Instagram account for a few months. This is part of our #Birthday30 year and is in line with the priority of ‘Localisation’ in our new Strategic Plan. We are working towards having as much of our work done in Malawi as possible.

Handy Kamanga was an MMF girl at Bandawe Girls’ Secondary School from 2008 – 2012. Click on her image above to see her intro. She studied Media for Development at the University of Malawi. She was supported in her final year there by the Soko Fund. She has worked for Plan International. She now has her own hair products business with the snappy title of ‘Kandy Naturals‘. We are delighted to have her young and enthusiastic approach to our Instagram channel and are sure that you will all notice the difference.

Thanks Handy!

Volunteer fun

The Mamie Martin Fund is run by volunteers. Our only paid staff member is our Country Director in Malawi (Mercy Sibande). A recent survey of our volunteers suggested that they might appreciate meeting other volunteers. So, this happened for those who could attend last Saturday (Dec 10th) in Glasgow. 

L-R: Violet, Moira, Sue, Shona, Heidi

We met for lunch in the city centre. There were five of us, many meeting others for the first time and some were renewing acquaintance. Meeting online is great, of course. It allows us to work together across great distances. But meeting in person adds another dimension. We got to know each other a bit and explored ideas around the table.

The event was fun in terms of the food and other customers. We asked about one item on the menu – ‘Glasgow Salad’. This is a joke about the legendary Glasgow diet and is a plate of chips. Adding to the fun was The Grinch at a table behind us. The day was topped off by a man in a Christmas suit, complete with matching tie. Sue is our photo volunteer and could not resist getting a pic!

It felt like an important time and we hope to do it again before too long. Meeting in person allows ideas to develop and relationships to be established or developed. Thanks, volunteers, we could not do our MMF work without you. 

Friendship and collaboration in person

On Saturday last we were delighted to attend in person at the AGM of the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP). What a day of warmth and excitement. We had not seen friends and colleagues for so long. The day felt like true partnership all the way through. We shared a table and volunteers with the One World Shop. We caught up with Kenyawi KidsSteka Skills, the David Livingstone BirthplaceMalDent and many many others. The team at SMP put on a great day which included Malawi Gin (of course), Malawian food, great music and a tremendous tribute to the outgoing CEO, David Hope-Jones, who has been so supportive to the Mamie Martin Fund over the years.

We were pleased to introduce our friends from the Malawi-Scotland Partnership to our friends at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, where they were welcomed to the Sunday morning service.

Thanks to our volunteer, Liz Hall, and to all the supporters who stopped by our table to chat or buy notecards or gift cards.

Dalgety Bay Coffee Morning

As part of our two-months long photo exhibition in Dalgety Parish Church, Fife, the Church members and the Fairtrade group hosted a coffee morning for us on Saturday 12th  November. It turned into a wonderful gathering of friends old and new. It was a chance for people to catch up and learn about our work in Malawi. Alan Kimmitt, a previous Trustee, and his family did the 40 mile round trip from Glenrothes to join us!

Not one but two local Councillors, Sarah Neal and David Barratt, attended, giving us their support. Sarah, who had visited Malawi in her 20s and was very affected by the poverty she saw, commented “we (myself and David) want to support the Trustees who do amazing work in Malawi. The work …. is so welcome…. I do think that if you educate and empower a girl you educate and empower their whole community”. See Sarah’s testimonial here.

The show of Nerani Nthara’s recent photos sparked lots of interest and discussion. Church member Isobel’s delicious cakes attracted much deserved attention too! Visitors commented on the welcoming buzz in the room and ate a lot of cake if donations are anything to go by!

Safe to say, this event exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance and donations raised! This church has a long standing link with Northern Malawi and has given us regular support. Nevertheless, we were all astonished at everyone’s generosity. Donations were requested in return for cake and coffee/tea and the basket had to be emptied more than once to make room for more notes! Donations of more than £400 were received on the day, with more coming in later. We also had an offer from Isabel to bake for us again! This may well become an annual event!

Another online AGM

This video from Mchengautuba Community Day Secondary School was the hightlight of our AGM 2022. Holding our AGM online started as a necessity. Now we choose that way because we can include so many more people. Our friends and colleagues from Malawi are always particularly welcome. We had 25 participants in the meeting with some others watching it live on Facebook. You can watch the recording on this link.

The highlights of the business part were:

  • Things are currently very difficult in Malawi. The impact of the Covid-19 and the devaluation of the Kwacha has hit people hard
  • Mercy Sibande‘s title is now Malawi Country Director, which better reflects the seniority of her role there
  • We have improved our governance in several ways – we have revised our Strategic Plan, improved our cyber security and improved our internal and external communications. Our new Strategic priority is Localisation, ensuring that as much as possible is done in Malawi by Malawians
  • We noted that Brian Kerr is stepping down from the Board and we thanked him for his years of service
  • We welcomed Patrick Chinguwo to our Board. Patrick is a lecturer in Law at the University of Mzuzu
  • Noted that we need paid or voluntary help with our IT work.

Reports from our Country Manager included a heart-warming story about a girl who is back at school after having a baby.

The treasurer reported on the year’s accounts. Noted that

  • More than 90% of our money is spent in Malawi
  • 95% of our money is spent on direct provision of services (fees and other costs in Malawi)
  • Because our admin work is being done on a voluntary basis, our costs are low (5%)
  • Small regular donations from individuals are the backbone of our funding

The Marketing team reported on the year’s fun and fundraising. Noted the new Christmas Jumper appeal which was launched at the meeting.

Noted that we will be 30 years old in 2023 and #Birthday30 will be our marketing focus – do 30 things for MMF.

The first keynote speech was by Mrs Joana Chimphepo, a teacher at Mchengautuba Community Day Secondary School (MCDSS) in Mzuzu. She told us the history of the school. She was one of the teachers there. Then she told us of the struggles of many of the students. They are often part of child-headed families, a legacy of the AIDS pandemic. Other illness cause the death of parents so many of the children have lost one or both parents. That speech is available on our YouTube channel.

The second input was a follow-up talk by Dr Isa Uny from University of Stirling on her From Fuel to Pot research.

The meeting closed with thanks to all those who attended and who made it possible. It was great to be so global!

A recording of the meeting is available on YouTube.

Running boost to Deaf girls’ education

The Thompson Fund, managed by the Mamie Martin Fund, supports the secondary education of Deaf girls at Embangweni in North Malawi. The Fund was established in memory of Jack and Phyllis Thompson. Their daughter, Jenny, ran the London Marathon last Sunday in memory of her parents – Jack was also a marathon runner. She raised over £4k for the Thompson Fund. Jenny’s family, friends, colleagues and neighbours responded generously to her fundraising appeal. Huge thanks, also, to her running friend, Pete, whose friends all joined in with donations.

Jenny ran the 42 kms in 4 hours, 40 minutes and 45 seconds – amazing! Mercy Sibande, our Malawi Manager, will show photos of Jenny to the girls at Embangweni whose education is only possible because of the Thompson Fund. It remains to be seen what they think about running to raise money for girls whom neither the runner nor the donors have ever met. They will certainly be impressed and will be motivated to work hard at their studies. To quote our treasurer, who has been in Embangweni and knows the situation of these girls,

Great job, changing lives of Deaf kids in Malawi who, economically, are really the lowest. This help doesn’t just change their lives, it gives them a life.

Jenny’s page remains open for another short while – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jenny-chambers1