< Karonga Archives – Mamie Martin Fund

Triumph for Elena

Elena had a very difficult start in life. Thanks to a local pastor’s wife she was brought to Karonga Girls’ Secondary School in North Malawi in 2016. Passing the entrance exam, she was given a place at the school and was also awarded an MMF bursary. She was a shy and quiet child who looked neglected and much younger than her 16 years. It was wonderful to see her appearance and demeanour changing over the next four years and she became strong and cheerful. However, her father remarried and, during the summer holiday after Elena’s second year at school, her step-mother and brother tried to give her away in marriage. Child marriage, though unlawful, continues to be a real threat to children in rural areas in Malawi.

She escaped early marriage by running away back to school. She travelled alone for nearly 100 kms, asking strangers for help with transport, till she arrived at the home of the lady who had first rescued her. Her courage was rewarded and that become her home during school holidays. Sadly the lady passed away just after Elena finished school. The living situation then became unsafe for Esther who was brave enough to seek help.

Elena did not get grades good enough for university study but she secured a local college place to study for a Diploma. Well-wishers came forward and supported her with accommodation (essential for her safety at that point) and fees. After two years, Elena proudly sent MMF photos of her graduation with a Diploma in Professional Community Development with merit. Many young women in Malawi cope with hardships and barriers. Elena is a shining example of how courage, with some help, can overcome adversity and triumph.

We are proud to have played a part in Elena’s journey from being an undernourished, frightened child to being a confident, professional woman.

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.