< Alison girls Archives – Mamie Martin Fund

Trustee-Partner meetings in Karonga

While our Scottish Trustee, Alan Laverock, was caught up in the Omicron crisis and had to leave Malawi, our new Malawian Trustee, Remmie Kamanga, stepped up to the mark and visited our partner, the Diocese of Karonga, with Mercy, our manager in Malawi, last week.

Acting Education Secretary, Mr Thomas Nyondo with, Remmie and Mercy

We set up the partnership with the Diocese in 2019. We are supporting six ‘Alison2’ girls in Karonga and those girls start Form 3 next month. We will support additional girls starting in 2022 and until they finish their secondary education. Six of these will be supported at St Mary’s Karonga by Lancashire West Methodist Circuit and a further 4 by our new ‘Katy’s Fund’. Six other ‘Katy girls’ will be at Kaseye Girls’ Secondary School in Chitipa, a new school for us and one which is in the far north of Malawi, close to the Tanzanian border. It is also a Diocese of Karonga school and a welcome expansion of our partnership with the Diocese.

Mr Nyirongo and Dr Nyirenda, Deputy Heads at St Mary’s, Karonga meet with Mercy and Remmie

The Trustee visit was important in terms of strengthening our partnership and confirming our shared values. The girls we support are chosen by the schools on the basis of need, not academic ability or any other attribute. We are lucky in having Remmie on our Board; he brings long experience of education in Malawi at a number of levels.

New partnership in Malawi

Angie Wynn, Vice-Convener of the Mamie Martin Fund, signed a partnership agreement on Wednesday, 9th October with the Diocese of Karonga. The Diocese has two schools which meet our criteria for funding and we are able to support six girls at St Mary’s Karonga, a girls’ boarding school just south of Karonga in the far north of Malawi. These six girls are ‘Alison girls’ because their funding is part of the second Scottish Government endowment funding to honour the lifetime work of Colin and Alison Cameron in Malawi and Scotland.

The agreement was signed for the Diocese by Mr Remmie W. C.  Kamanga, the Diocesan Education Desk Officer. We are hugely appreciative that Remmie broke his holiday to meet us at St Mary’s for this historic signing.

Until last year we had only worked with the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, with whom we have historic links and a real sense of shared purpose in continuing the work of Mamie Martin. Last year we broadened our remit, signing a Partnership Agreement with Mchengautuba Community Day Secondary School. Now that we have a similar agreement with the Diocese of Karonga, we can work with more sections of Malawian society to support a wider range of girls at secondary school level.

Supporting deaf pupils in Malawi

We have supported one girl at Embangweni School for Deaf Children for five years. When Trustees Mariot and Moira visited with Mercy, our Malawi Manager, last year, we were struck by the need of this school and its pupils. Happily, thanks to new funding from the Scottish Government and the Thompson Fund, we met five new MMF girls on this visit. Three of these will be supported throughout their secondary education (they are all in Form 1 now) by a fund set up in the memory of Jack and Phyllis Thompson who devoted most of their lives to Malawi and its people. They would have been delighted to meet Mary, Funny and Deborah for whom the funding is making the difference of a lifetime. The other two girls are being funded by the Scottish Government through the Alison Cameron Scholarships.

At the school we heard sad stories of deaf children whose parents abandon them at school, sending no money even for transport home in the holidays. Not all families have this attitude of course but the barriers faced by deaf children in Malawi are huge and our funding makes a difference to our six girls and their families. There is great concern about their future after school and our Form 4 girl is particularly worried about that. We are always sad that we can only meet some of the need which we encounter here in Malawi.

We are glad about the project run by the CCAP and Sense Scotland which will work towards improving access to quality education for all children in Northern Malawi. We hope to see educational opportunities for our girls and all other disabled children improve in the near future.

Malawian girls’ aspirations

We were pleased to be able to record a video with one group of Mamie Martin Fund girls where they spoke about their aspirations. This particular group are ‘Alison Girls’, funded by the Scottish Government as an endowment to honour Alison and Colin Cameron who have contributed so much to Malawi-Scotland relationships over their lifetime. 

The video mention of ‘Alison 1’ and ‘Alison 2’ refers to two separate blocks of ‘Alison’ funding – the bursaries are called ‘The Alison Cameron Scholarships’ and the girls are affectionately called ‘The Alison Girls’. They were keen to make this video in order to send their greetings to Alison herself. Hope she enjoys it.

While we are delighted to encourage the girls in their hopes and dreams, it is already a big challenge for them to be in secondary school. It will be an even bigger challenge to find and fund a university course. We are glad of our partnership with the Soko Fund which gives some of these girls access to some bursaries to study at Malawian universities.