Human Rights Day

Today we mark the UN Human Rights Day. This is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. We share a few paragraphs from the recent MSc dissertation by Anna Freidenfeld who was on placement with us last summer. She makes some comments about how we might work towards the Global Goal of Gender Equality.

“In order to overcome education barriers rooted in patriarchal norms, wider communities need to be educated on the importance of girls’ education (1). Intersectional ‘gender sensitisation education’ could reduce the marginalisation and discrimination faced by girls – especially those with disabilities, young mothers and orphans of HIV/AIDS – which can push them to drop out of school. Furthermore, NGOs need to employ local women in positions of power to mirror the gender equality they are working towards in the wider world within their own structures (2). NGOs should also focus on helping reduce the cultural reproduction of gender hierarchies within schools (3,4). Accordingly, women need to become more involved in the management of schools. Mothers’ Groups are a good example of community collectives that are increasing women’s involvement in educational management. If NGOs work with local women they can better work towards ‘transformative gender mainstreaming’ in education-policy (5).

The best approaches to overcome education-barriers in Northern Malawi tend to be more holistic, combining multiple tactics and recognising the different education-barriers faced by different individuals. Clearly, the operations of NGOs need to be continually examined so they can work to improve their approaches. Notably, more education-barriers are bound to emerge in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, future ethnographic research in Northern Malawi is needed to provide different perspectives and explore further barriers and enablers to education.”


1 Abane, H. (2004) ‘The girls do not learn hard enough so they cannot do certain types of
work.’ Experiences from an NGO-sponsored gender sensitization workshop in a
Southern Ghanaian community’, Community Development Journal, 39(1), pp. 49–61.

2 Duraiappah, A.K., Roddy, P., & Parry, J. (2005) ‘Have Participatory Approaches Increased Capabilities?’ International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (online). Available at: 

3 Bourdieu, P. (1973) ‘Cultural reproduction and social reproduction’, pp. 71–112, in Brown,
R. (Ed.). Knowledge, Education and Cultural Change. London: Tavistock.

4 Arnot, M. (2002). Reproducing gender? : essays on educational theory and feminist politics. London: Routledge.

5 Mukhopadhyay, M. (2004) ‘Mainstreaming Gender or “Streaming” Gender Away: Feminists Marooned in the Development Business’, IDS Bulletin, 35(4), pp. 95–103.

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 [email protected]

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. 

Schools roundup

As Angie and Moira come to the end of their Trustee visit to Malawi, here’s a roundup of the schools they visited. They were able to visit all the schools which we support, four of them are run by the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, one is a Government school and one, the most recent addition, is run by the Diocese of Karonga.

Bandawe Girls’ and Karonga Girls’ are CCAP boarding schools. This year we support 43 pupils (about 10% of the school roll) in each.   Elangeni Secondary is a CCAP co-ed boarding school where we have 24 MMF-supported girls this year. Embangweni Secondary School for Deaf Children is run by the CCAP and we have moved from supporting one girl here to six. Three of those are funded by the new Thompson Fund, two from the new Alison Cameron endowment and one is a core-fund MMF girl, now in her final year.

We are pleased to be in our second year of supporting Mchengautuba Community Day Secondary School, run by the Government and the community. Finally, this is our first year of supporting girls at St Mary’s Karonga, a girls’ boarding school where we now have six girls on Alison Cameron scholarships, funded by the Scottish Government

The girls whom we support at all of these schools are very needy and we have heard heart-rending stories of the obstacles they overcome to even get to school. One 13 year old pupil made her way alone over 450 Kms (not a typo!) to take up her place, with nothing. She ran out of transport money and sat by the road until someone asked what she was doing and gave her a small amount of money to get her to school.

The commitment to education on the part of these girls and their families is breath-taking. We heard more than one story of families selling their land so as to pay fees for their daughters and granddaughters. While our help often feels like a drop in the ocean, it makes a real difference to these girls, their families and their communities. Thank you all for your support.

Pens and bands

Our new pens and bands are supplied by Ross Promotional Products Glasgow. The pens are made from recycled plastic and Ross Promotional are a Glasgow Living Wage company.

We’ll be sending a bundle out to Malawi with the next Trustee visit. Last year when we met with girls who receive  MMF support they told us that they’d like some way of identifying themselves as MMF girls within the school community so that they can make friends easily and offer each other support. We hope these attractive rainbow coloured bands will do this.

Here in Scotland, we will sell the pens and bands ( £1 each) when we are out and about doing talks and events. Watch out for news of how to buy them on our website shop and in the meantime if you’d like some, contact Mariot ( [email protected])

Tom Dallas, one of Mamie and Jack’s great grandsons, lent a hand to show off the pen and band in the video!

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.