A Brief History of the Mamie Martin Fund
The MAMIE MARTIN FUND was founded in 1993 by Margaret and John Sinclair in memory of Margaret’s mother, Mamie, who worked to empower women and girls through education in 1920s Malawi.
While in Malawi with her husband Jack, a Church of Scotland missionary, she became aware of the need for girls and women to have access to education and she used her experience as a teacher to set up classes, with great success. Jack and Mamie are still remembered today in northern Malawi and their story is vividly told in Salt and Light, the book by their daughter, Margaret, based on their letters and diaries.
Margaret was born in Malawi in 1927, but Mamie died in 1928, giving birth to her second child. A visit to Malawi in 1991 by Margaret and John lit the spark for this charity, which was set up in 1993 after discussion with Malawian friends. In partnership with the Synod of Livingstonia, Mamie Martin has supported more than 650 girls through their secondary education in Malawi. These girls are now passing on this benefit to the next generation and to Malawian society, a lasting legacy in memory of a remarkable woman.
Now more than 20 years old, the Mamie Martin Fund is managed by a Board of Trustees in Scotland, who are responsible for the governance and strategy of the charity, as well as ensuring that it is administered effectively. The charity is supported by two part-time staff member – one in Scotland and one in Malawi – and also relies on the help of a number of volunteers.
Meet the team
Co-Convenor & Trustee
Grandson of Jack and Mamie Martin, and son of John and Margaret Sinclair, Willie has been a Committee Member/Trustee of the charity since approximately 1995, and Convenor for many years since. Willie visited Malawi in 2005 and would like to go back, but his day-job is Partner and Clinical Director of a growing Veterinary Practice in Irvine, Ayrshire which currently precludes such a journey. He has a tolerant and flexible approach to chairing Trustees Meetings and uses his musical contacts and enthusiasm for cycling to raise money for the Fund.
Secretary & Trustee
I joined the Board in 2013 and have been a supporter of the Mamie Martin Fund since its inception in 1993. I am a retired veterinary surgeon and spent more than 30 years working in, and managing, a small animal practice in Ayrshire with my 2 business partners. I was secretary of Cunninghame South Constituency Labour Party and chairperson of Ayrshire CND for several years, until expansion in our business took up all my spare time. The Mamie Martin Fund has been a huge presence in our family life, and I am honoured to play my part in continuing its valuable and essential work in North Malawi – helping impoverished young women into secondary education.
Co-convenor and Trustee
I retired from teaching in 2015 and am enjoying semi-retired life. My husband John and I have regular grandparent days with our grandson (and Mamie’s great-great grandson) which are a great joy. I also do some music teaching in local primary schools, as well as working with several choirs. During my time at Falkirk High School I helped set up a school partnership with Bandawe Girls Secondary School and was lucky enough to lead two pupil excursions to Malawi and one reciprocal visit to Falkirk by BAGSS girls and teachers. I feel a strong bond with Bandawe and the many friends in that community. I enjoy talking and writing about MMF and about Mamie and Jack, often using the book ‘Salt and Light’ as a starting point. I’ve been a Trustee for some time and am currently sharing the convenor role with my brother Willie. We remember our parents and their vision for MMF when they set it up in 1993 but we also enjoy the challenge of taking MMF forward into the future.
Treasurer & Trustee
Lynsey first became involved with the Mamie Martin Fund in 2008 when she visited Bandawe Girls Secondary School as part of an educational trip with Falkirk High School. After graduating from Heriot-Watt University in Mathematics, she has since worked with other organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa, and as an Analyst with Maggie’s Centres and the People’s Postcode Lottery. Lynsey, who lives in Edinburgh, now studies Adult Nursing at Queen Margaret University.
Moira learned about the work of Mamie Martin when Margaret and John came back from their first trip to Malawi. Having just completed an MSc in Gender and starting a new job in Education, she was pleased to be able to help with the process of setting up the Mamie Martin Fund and has been involved in one way or another since then. She believes passionately in the need to support the education of girls everywhere as it is essential to the well-being of any nation. She plays a key role in the Marketing and Fundraising Group within MMF. Moira has visited Malawi on behalf of MMF each year between 2015 and 2018. She is now retired and enjoys cycling, fundraising and learning to play the fiddle.
Brian is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of our partner, The Soko Fund, a Scottish charity that enables women to access higher education in Malawi. Brian has a background in social care and social work management.
Hazel has worked for the Mamie Martin Fund since February 2008. Her past experience includes working in a Local Authority Social Work Department and various voluntary sector organisations in Edinburgh before joining the staff at Heriot Watt University. Hazel is currently the part-time Scotland Administrator for Mamie Martin Fund.
Mercy Moyo Sibande
MMF Manager, Malawi
Mercy is an educationist from Mzuzu, Malawi, who obtained her Bachelors from Mzuzu University in 2015. She is the Coordinator for the Mamie Martin Fund in Malawi. She has a passion for work that deals with women and children affairs thus, girl child education and empowerment falls under her desired goals. She is an honest reliable individual who loves to bring about change and meaning in somebody’s life by making them realise that they can reach as far as their dreams can take them, no matter what background they are coming from.
Click here to watch Mercy talk about why girls’ education matters in Malawi.
Vice Convenor & Trustee
Angie has a Social Science degree and diploma in Social Work. She first met Margaret Sinclair in 1970 when, as social workers, they both joined the same team in Stirling. A long standing friendship soon grew up between Angie and the Sinclair family and since the Mamie Martin Fund was established Angie has taken a close interest in the charity. Having seen the effects of education deprivation in her own mother’s generation, she holds a strong belief in the rights of girls and women to have equal opportunities in education and self development which leads to improved health and education for the next generation and greater prosperity for the whole community. Angie has worked with children and young people, as a Development Worker for Enable Scotland and has set up and managed a range of care services in Scotland. She has also served on the Fife Committee of Cruse Scotland. It is the experience she has gained in all these roles which she hopes will be useful to the Mamie Martin Fund.
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. In July 2017 the Scottish Government honoured that work by creating an endowment fund in Alison’s name and asking the Mamie Martin Fund to administer it. This fund will enable us to support 23 girls through school and 2 at university for four years.
The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), Synod of Livingstonia, has existed for almost 140 years, since the first Scottish Missionaries arrived in Malawi in 1875. In its ministry, it does not only reach out to communities with spiritual care but is also involved in education, health care, HIV&AIDS, water & sanitation, food security, civic education and other development projects. Maxwell M. Banda, former Education Secretary for the Synod of Livingstonia, was involved in the formation of the Mamie Martin Fund and played an important part in forming the official partnership between the charity and the Synod in 2007.
The Mamie Martin Fund supports girls at four of the secondary schools run by the Synod in the Northern Region of Malawi, and funds are distributed to the schools by the Synod’s Education Office. The head teachers of the schools, along with representatives from the Education Office, make up the local Mamie Martin committee in Malawi, meeting once each school term to discuss matters relating to the charity’s activities and officially reporting back to the Mamie Martin Fund in Scotland.
Mchengautuba Day Secondary School is co-educational (50/50) in a relatively new part of the city. The school is newly built. It opened in September 2015 and will have a full four Forms in 2018-19 for the first time. There were 350 pupils during the MMF Trustee visit in October 2017. These are double-streamed, that is two classes for each Form. The school is government-funded. It is managed by the School Management Committee together with the Parent-Teacher Association and the ‘Mothers’ Group’, a community-based organisation focused on the welfare needs of the pupils. The local community contributes to the continuing building of the school. There are many child-headed families within the pupils at this school.
The Soko Fund was established in 2004. Its sole purpose is to enable women in Malawi to obtain a university education by providing scholarships. Preference is given to women in needy circumstances who are already engaged in vocationally oriented studies. It currently provides scholarships to 48 students in the Universities of Malawi, Mzuzu and Lilongwe. The Soko Fund is registered as a Charitable trust in accordance with the law of Scotland (SC035554). Its work is overseen by a Board of Trustees.