A midwife’s night duty shift, Malawi, 1963

We are proud to have Alison Cameron as our Scottish Patron. So we were thrilled to see her 1963 snapshot of one night’s work published in the Society of Malawi Journal, Vol. 72, No. 1, 2019. We are grateful to the Journal for permission to share it with you on our website. In this article Alison describes the pressures and uncertainties of giving birth in Malawi. It was a dangerous business then and, even though maternal and infant mortality rates have fallen considerably, it is still a dangerous process for mother and baby.

Malawi infant mortality today is 39 per 1,000 live births (https://data.unicef.org/country/mwi/#), down from 64 in 2007. The SDG target for 2030 is to reduce it to 12 deaths per 1,000 live births globally. As a means of comparison, it is currently 4 deaths per 1,000 live births in the UK. Maternal health is also an area of grave concern in Malawi. Malawi’s most recent estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is 439 per 100,000 live births (NSO Malawi & ICF, 2017); below the WHO (2015) estimate for the sub-Saharan African region of 546 ( in 2000, it was roughly 1120, so it has more than halved in 20 years).

Malawi’s proportion of institutional deliveries has increased sharply from 55% in 1992 to 90% in 2015-16 (NSO Malawi & ICF 2017). Malawi provides free maternity care, but quality of care appears suboptimal (Leslie et al, 2016; Ministry of Health Malawi & ICF International, 2014). Health centres offer basic emergency obstetric and new-born care; a limited number of referral hospitals offers more comprehensive services. Malawi’s health system is affected by severe lack of physical, financial and human resources (Chimwaza et al., 2014).

Alison  has been a supporter of the Mamie Martin Fund since it was founded. She and her husband, Colin, have worked for 60 years to build and maintain civil society and governmental links between Malawi and Scotland. The Scottish Government has honoured that work by creating an endowment fund in Alison’s name and asking us to administer it. This fund supports 45 girls through school and 4 at university over four years each.

Source: National Statistical Office – NSO/Malawi and ICF (2017). Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2015-16. Available from: https://dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-fr319-dhs-final-reports.cfm. Accessed 31 January 2019. Zomba, Malawi, and Rockville, Maryland, USA: National Statistical Office and ICF.

Legacy Giving

We were humbled to receive a legacy recently. The parent of a long-time supporter had died and his family decided to divide the estate between their favourite charities, How generous! This prompted the following post.

It is estimated that as many as 70% of adults in Scotland do not have a Will. This may be because we are reluctant to think about dying or because we assume our nearest and dearest will inherit automatically anyway, so why bother? But dying intestate (without a valid Will) may mean that your wishes will not be carried out the way you expected or wanted. You may also leave your family with complicated and expensive financial and legal problems to sort out. Legacies left to registered charities are taken from your estate before it is assessed for inheritance tax, making it an even better idea.

We would be delighted if you decide to leave the Mamie Martin Fund, or any other charity which you support, a legacy in your Will, after any legacies to your family and friends. Make sure your solicitor uses the full charity details of your chosen charity in your Will: Our full name and registered address is: Mamie Martin Fund, 43 Ravenscroft, Irvine, Ayrshire KA12 9DE Our registered charity number is SCO21483

Thanks to Alzheimer Scotland on whose website we found some of the information above.

Thompson Scholarship Fund

The Thompson Scholarship Fund was set up in the autumn of last year to honour the memory of Jack and Phyllis Thompson. Their family, Scotland-Malawi Partnership and their Church colleagues in Malawi asked the Mamie Martin Fund to provide some scholarships in their name. The fund-raising page for this was on BTMyDonate, which is closing at the end of June. The money raised so far (£6,981.00, including Gift Aid) has already been received by the Mamie Martin Fund. This amount has been logged on the new page, hosted by VirginMoneyGiving.

The goal is to create three scholarships over the four years which is the norm for secondary schooling in Malawi. We will start that provision with two scholarships starting in September 2019 and add the third when the funding gets closer to its target. At least one of those places will be at the secondary school for Deaf children in Embangweni. All of the places will be for girls.

Thanks for all your support of this project. You can continue to help by sharing this link and encouraging friends and family to bear it in mind when undertaking challenges – a run, bike ride, climbing Everest, etc. On this new page you could set up your personal fundraising page, or just donate directly to the Fund. If you need any help, get in touch with moira@mamiemartin.org

Preparing for Malawi trip

Governance visits to Malawi are an important part of our work with our partners there as well as playing a vital role in our accountability to our beneficiaries and donors.

Moira (left) and Angie plan their Malawi trip

This year Moira Dunworth will go to Malawi again and will be joined by fellow Trustee, Angie Wynn, for whom this will be a first trip to Africa. They met to discuss dates and other practical preparation tasks. Then they booked their flights so the trip will be from 25th September to 15th October. They hope to visit all of the schools we support and meet all of our partners as well as the many friends of the Mamie Martin Fund in Malawi.

A key task on this trip will be the signing of a new Partnership Agreement with the Diocese of Karonga. We start supporting girls at their boarding school, St Mary’s, in 2019 thanks to the Scottish Government’s funding of ‘Alison Cameron Scholarships’.

Mercy gets her driving licence!

One of the outcomes of our recent Scottish Government Capacity-Building grant

Our wonderful Malawi Manager, Mercy, has achieved yet another life skill. She has succeeded in getting her driving licence! From what we know, and what we have experienced when visiting, driving in Malawi is quite an achievement!

Given that her role with us involves a lot of travel, having the independence and flexibility to drive herself will be so beneficial.

Our thanks go to the Scottish Government for the recent Capacity Building Grant which enabled us to fund Mercy’s lessons and pay for her licence, among many other capacity-building activities this past year

Many congratulations to her from all her Mamie Martin friends in Scotland.

A Malawian perspective at our Board

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We were delighted to welcome Esmelda Chirwa to our Board meeting this week. She is from Blantyre, Malawi and is an MSc student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She has joined our Board as an advisor while she is in Scotland. It is so helpful to have a Malawian perspective on our Board discussions, particularly the viewpoint of a young Malawian woman.

She found her first Board meeting useful too as she has not realised the complexity of managing money at this end. It seems that we are in a win-win situation here; we benefit from her advice and those she knows in Malawi will benefit from understanding more about how small organisations work here.

Thanks Esmelda – it is a great pleasure to have you on board.

Humbie Dean garden opens on 19th May

Finally, the weather is warming up so that thoughts are turning to garden visiting. We have just the garden for you! Humbie Dean is a two-acre ornamental and woodland garden sandwiched between two burns at 600 feet with interest throughout a long season. A limited palette of plants with hosta, hellebores, perennial geranium, primula, meconopsis, martagon lilies, spring bulbs, ground cover, herbaceous and shrub planting, bluebell meadow, mature and recent azalea and rhododendron planting. A short woodland walk has been created, only accessible by a series of steps.

Frank Kirwan has again chosen the Mamie Martin Fund as the beneficiary of his Humbie Dean garden openings with Scotland’s Gardens. Because of the very cold Spring, this year Humbie Dean is only open on Sundays 19th and 26th May & Sunday 7 July , 10am – 2pm. Admission £5.00, children free.

Directions: Enter Humbie from the A68, pass the school and village hall on the left then immediately turn right just before the Humbie Hub. Take second left and Humbie Dean is on the left between two small bridges. Limited parking.

Miles for Malawi team ride again

Sunday 12th May 2019 – Falkirk

Bicycle and Selkies, Falkirk

We are delighted that we’ll have Miles for Malawi riders in the Wee Jaunt Falkirk again this year. This is an event run by Pedal for Scotland and you need to register on that link. It’s a 7.5 traffic-free double loop at The Helix in Falkirk, starting at the astonishing hour of 08:30. 

However, Mariot and her team are up for it and we’ve set them up a ‘campaign’ on Virgin Money Giving. We’ve had to move fundraising websites because BTMyDonate is closing down, which is a shame. You can donate to Mariot and her team or set up your own page to fundraise as part of that event. Contact Mariot to chat further.

A donor’s feedback

We were delighted to receive an unsolicited donation recently and particularly thrilled to get this comment from the donor as to why our charity was chosen:

“Your appeal is that you are focused; know your area, partners and client group well; have a small but committed group of supporters; and, most importantly, will have a long term impact through the education of girls. Not a difficult choice to make!”

Apart from specific grants, our work in Malawi is funded by individual donors. Thanks to that donor and all the others who keep us going, particularly regular donors, no matter how small the amount you give. You can donate in various ways and we are now registered with Virgin Money Giving as BTMyDonate is closing soon.