6 year old shares our vision

On 1st August 2018 Rev. Ken Ross launched a fund to support three girls at secondary school in Malawi. This is the Thompson Scholarship Fund and we are honoured to administer it on behalf of the Thompson family and the Scotland Malawi Partnership. Just over a year later, Jack and Phyllis’ youngest granddaughter, 6-year-old Alice, has created a project about ‘giving’ in which she has used this Fund to illustrate the joys of ‘giving’.

Her two-page project is beautifully decorated with photos of her grandparents and of the three girls whose secondary school fees are paid by the Fund. Alice wrote:

In Malawi, which is in Africa, many girls don’t get to go to school. This is because they are poor and often get married too young. Also they have to stay at home and do chores for their families. The Mamie Martin charity helps Malawian girls go to school. One fund in the Mamie Martin charity is the Thompson Scholarship Fund. This is in memory of my Grandma and Grandpa who lived and worked in Malawi for many years.

These three girls are called: Funny, Deborah and Mary. They are the first three girls to be sent to school by the fund. These girls are also deaf. It would have been very hard for them to go to school without the fund. I am really happy that they get to go to school like me.

By Alice Thompson

Isn’t that amazing and heart-warming? The Thompson Fund has started to support girls in Malawi, as Alice has written. All three are at the same school, the CCAP Secondary School for Deaf Children in Embangeni. These girls will be at secondary school for six years, rather than the four which is more usual in Malawi. This is because of the many barriers to their education – the girls are deaf. You can watch a video of them chatting by sign language on the Mamie Martin Fund website or on YouTube.

The Thompson Scholarship Fund was set up in the anticipation of a four-year support of three girls and has reached that target. However, these girls need support for six years and so the fund-raising page remains open. The Mamie Martin Fund is committed to supporting all its beneficiaries until they complete their schooling and these Thompson girls are no exception – they will be supported for six years or until they complete secondary education.

Video volunteer making a difference

We’ve been taking videos and trying to get better at providing you, our supporters and friends, with reasonable quality footage of our work in Malawi. Apart from Doreen, our Administrator and Bookkeeper in Scotland and Mercy, our Malawi Manager, we are all volunteers and learning as we go. Imagine our pleasure, then, to get an offer of help with our video editing, particularly the sound which is so challenging when filming in Malawi (you wouldn’t believe the level of background noise everywhere!). 

Richard Robinson is now our Video Volunteer and his work can be see in the two most recent videos we’ve published – Benadeta and the Thompson Girls. Richard’s background is in rural development and the environment. Recently he has been involved in local Scottish community projects addressing climate change, which led him to learn basic video-editing skills. His daughter’s school have a long established partnership with a school in Southern Malawi; she visited as a teenager and the family later hosted an exchange student. This led Richard to become very aware of the difficulties of education in Malawi, particularly for girls.

We are hugely grateful for this help. As those of you who have done any video-editing will know, it is a very time-consuming task and can be very frustrating. But you can look forward to better-quality videos now that we have Richard on board!

New classrooms at Elangeni

Elangeni Secondary School is one of the schools which we support in Malawi. At a recent Scotland’s International Development Alliance event, we met Amy Blake, the new CEO of Classrooms for Malawi (CFM), who is also a trustee of The Alliance. We discovered that they had built the new classrooms that our trustees saw at Elangeni in October. These buildings are already making a huge difference to the ability of the school to deliver quality education. We are pleased to have this link with an organisation who do capital projects, which we do not, and who have the contacts and skills to do them so well.

Amy is CFM’s first CEO and says this about herself:

“Over the past 20 years I have worked with a range of different size charities and NGOs to help develop income streams and to support strategic direction and operational effectiveness. My most recent role was as Director at the International Voluntary Service (IVS) where I spent three years working with a fabulous team of staff and volunteers all committed to providing volunteer placements linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This experience taught me the value of leading an agile, forward thinking team, able to respond quickly to need and in turn, make a lasting difference to those communities that need it most. Prior to IVS, I worked with organisations including The British Red Cross, Capability Scotland and UNICEF.”

It’s 2020 and we’re working toward the global goals

International development goals

On Wednesday 4th December, one of our trustees attended the AGM of Scotland’s International Development Alliance (‘The Alliance’) which was followed with the launch of their report ” Working towards the Global Goals – An insight into our members’ contributions across the world”.  This is a very interesting and accessible document in which the Mamie Martin fund is highlighted as one of the organisations working towards Goal 4, that of inclusive and equitable quality education

A series of presentations about the report gave insights into the work being done on the Global Goals and how we all need to work together to achieve more. Together, members of the Alliance work across all 17 goals, with most working towards 2 or more each and in at least 103 countries. This is quite an achievement for a small country like Scotland!

Despite all the work being done there is still much to achieve and we have only one more decade to do so in the target time of 2030. While you could sense a real push to achieve much more, the ticking clock on one of the presentations was very sobering.

Interestingly, it is now being recognised that the business community plays an essential role, and one of the presenters talked about how she works with very large companies, advising them how to change their practices so that they can assist in achieving the goals. It was clear from the AGM how the Alliance is thinking more widely, realising that international development must include the business world. Membership has been extended to that sector as well as to individual members, which gives it a much broader base. It is expected that this will encourage the interdependence and partnerships which are needed to achieve the goals.

We look forward to working alongside and with many of these other Alliance members towards the achievement of the Global Goals. Our mission includes: Goal 4 – Quality Education; Goal 5 – Gender Equality; Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities, and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Christmas Greetings

We would like to wish all of our friends and supporters a happy Christmas. We are grateful for your support during the year – it is you who allow us to continue our work of helping girls’ through their secondary education in Malawi and every one of you plays an important part in that work.

We look forward to continuing that work in 2020 and to keeping you in touch with our plans and activities. 

Our Christmas tree in St Andrew’s and St George’s West in Edinburgh will be waiting for your visit until 5 pm on Christmas Eve – do pop in if you can. This image is of our Malawian angel which tops our tree.

We hope that 2020 brings you good health and success in all that you undertake.

A fresh perspective

Kathleen Sargeant was part of the Falkirk High School visit to Malawi in 2008, when the group attended class at Bandawe Girls Secondary School for a week. The trip made a big impression on all the pupils and teachers, which included Mariot Dallas, currently co-convenor of MMF. 

Kathleen now works in a marketing role in London and has been enormously helpful in reviewing our website and suggesting improvements. Following a meeting in London recently, she was persuaded to extend her volunteering to managing a digital skills audit of MMF, which is part of our Action Plan following our recent Strategic Review. 

It’s hugely helpful to have volunteers taking on specific tasks like this, as we reported recently in relation to the sorting-out-images task that Sue Dumbleton is doing for us. It is also greatly appreciated when we have the input of young people like Kathleen. The average age of our Board is, like most NGOs in Scotland, much higher than we would like, given that we are in the business of education for girls. New perspectives are always helpful and input from younger people is especially welcome.

New volunteer on board

We are delighted that volunteer, Sue Dumbleton, has agreed to help us out with our images, which proliferate faster than we can edit and file them. Sue’s own photos are great and you can check that out on her Blipfoto blog, where she posts photos and ‘blips’ as ‘Tweedy’. Images are so important in our work but finding the time to get them into a sensible filing system and tidy them up is a challenge to the Trustees. 

Sue is committed to education, particularly to girls’ education and has been a supporter of the Mamie Martin Fund for some time. You might have seen our post-AGM news item which was taken from Sue’s own blog about the event. 

We are really appreciative of our volunteers’ time and commitment. Those contributions help us to keep the organization working efficiently and, we hope, effectively. If you have a skill that you’d like to offer us, please do get in touch at admin@mamiemartin.org

New administrator for the Mamie Martin Fund

As those of you who attended our AGM on the 26th of October already know, our long-standing and highly appreciated administrator Hazel Dawson is stepping down at the end of the year. She is looking forward with great excitement to her impending retirement and we all wish her well for many years to come.

The Board of Trustees has completed the recruitment process for a new administrator/ bookkeeper, and is delighted to introduce Doreen Lowe of Alexandria  West Dunbartonshire, as the successful applicant. She has experience in office admin, book-keeping, communications and lots more besides.

Doreen will take up her post with the MMF on the 2nd of December. This means she can be mentored and shown the ropes by Hazel for the first few weeks. However we are confident that Doreen will have no problem fitting in and taking on this role supporting the trustees and all our loyal member-supporters.

Doreen is an accountant by profession and her early years were spent working in the manufacturing, drinks distribution and hospitality sectors. Since taking maternity leave from her role as Financial Manager at Scottish and Newcastle Breweries in the 1990s, she has been working in part time roles primarily in the charitable sector to give her the time to be a busy mum to her daughter and son, 4 stepsons and now her 2 granddaughters.

As well as a busy home life Doreen is very active in her Church, and leads the Mission and Outreach Team. This includes working with the children in Sunday School and being part of the group that supports the positive links with Eco-Congregation Scotland.

She comes to the Mamie Martin Fund following spells as Office Manager for Glasgow Samaritans and Christian Aid Scotland, and is very much looking forward to the many new challenges ahead working with everyone at the MMF. We know that you are with us in wishing Hazel a long and happy retirement and extending a warm welcome to Doreen. 

Christmas tree joy

We feel privileged to be part, once again, of the Edinburgh Christmas Tree Festival held by St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church in Edinburgh. Friday was tree-decorating day and the festival, now in its 10th year, is open to the public Mondays to Saturdays 7th to 24th December. 

Trustees, Moira and Angie, were joined briefly by Esmelda Chirwa, advisor to the Board. Esmelda was heading off to start her journey home to Blantyre, Malawi and enjoyed a bit of fun decorating the tree before she left. Hazel Dawson, our outgoing administrator, also popped in for a shot at decorating the tree. It was a happy and sociable morning.

Our decorations were either made in Malawi or from Malawian cloth. Our angel, bought in Lilongwe this year attracted a lot of admiration. In addition to decorations, we hung case-studies of some of the Mamie Martin Girls who have been supported over the year. We had a lot of interest in our work from other tree-decorators and are always glad to be in St Andrew’s and St George’s West, a congregation which has consistently supported our work over the years.

Esmelda Chirwa, Master in Public Health

Esmelda and Moira

At a joyous ceremony in Glasgow on 26th November 2019, Esmelda Chirwa was awarded a Masters Degree in Public Health with distinction. Esmelda has been a student at Glasgow Caledonian University since September 2018. She is from Blantyre in Malawi and has acted as an advisor to our Board for most of her time here. We have appreciated her input and advice during our discussions. She spoke to our AGM in October about girls’ education in Malawi. She told us how lucky she has been in terms of education but provided statistics to illustrate her point that many Malawian girls are seriously disadvantaged in terms of education.

Esmelda returns to Malawi this week and we wish her well in her future career. With committed, hardworking and socially conscious young women like her, Malawi’s future seems bright.

MMF Trustee, Moira Dunworth, was privileged to be able to celebrate her graduation with Esmelda and her family.