Since 2009, the Crowborough Christian Men's Group have been working tirelessly for the growth of the community in Chapsinja. In that year, the chief was converted to Christ and life has never been the same since! Over the last eight years, there has been a new nursery, a church, and a primary school for over 600 children. There has been an ongoing feeding programme. Please click here to read the latest newsletter from the community. We thank God in the way that he spoke to these men all those years ago and for their dedication in following it through.
We are pleased to let all our supporters know that the Malawi Country Director, Emmanuel, has now won his case for a 10 year visa to the UK. Emmanuel, Maryanne and the family intend to visit the UK in July/August, 2017. We are so grateful that this has now been successfully resolved.
You will have read about Margaret's 100 days in Malawi. She has now visited all the linked schools. We thought that you might like to see the sorts of information that is shared between the schools. Chikombola - Lamberhurst is one of our more active links and I'm sure you'll be delighted to see what is going on in Malawi. Click here to read.
School children from primary schools on Starfish Malawi’s schools linking programme, visited Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent last week to learn about tree conservation and take part in an international project to help save the critically endangered Mulanji Cedar in Malawi.
The Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and the Forest Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM) are running a 3 year project to help save the Mulanje Cedar, which is endemic to Mulanje Mountain in Malawi.
To raise awareness, Starfish Malawi worked together with Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the Bedgebury National Pinetum tree conservation team to run a two day event in the Pinetum where 66 children from Goudhurst, Sandhurst, Bodiam and Etchingham primary schools came together to learn about the plight of the Mulanji Cedar. All the children had the opportunity to learn about deforestation in Malawi, see the Bedgebury Pinetum and visit the nursery where they planted wild collected seeds of the endangered trees. The future of the Mulanje Cedar seedlings will form part of the propagation trials for the “Save Our Cedar” project, which Starfish is also supporting in Malawi to raise awareness in local schools.
Great news from Malawi.
Three of our UK team have just returned from an inspirational trip visiting out projects and meeting with the Malawian team. God blessed the time and enabled us to see future developments of the projects. We met with many people and saw the good work that is being among the children and their communities. There is much to do but seeds are being sown that will bring forth fruit in the years to come.
For the work to continue in Malawi, we try and run a few fundraising events each year. Most of our income comes through regular donations from supporters and we are exceedingly grateful for these.
Our main fundraising activity is the Bewl Water Walk and we hope that you may be able to come on 10 June. Everybody enjoys a great day in a beautiful part of the world and the money is used to support orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi. Please find out more by clicking on the link below.
We are delighted to tell you about the fantastic work in Glad Tidings Orphan Care in Salima in 2016, where we seek to fulfil our vision of “a just world where every child is educated, healthy and cared for”. Click here to read this inspiring report.
Starfish Malawi Christmas Appeal
On the first day of December, we are excited to launch our annual Christmas Appeal!
Christmas is a time for family, friends and being thankful for all that God has blessed us with. It is also a time for giving and for taking time to consider those less fortunate than ourselves.
In Malawi, many girls are confined to their homes during menstruation and are unable to participate in everyday activities. Therefore, female students miss up to one quarter of school time, often including vital end of year exams, because of their menstrual cycle.
Last Christmas, you helped us raise over £500 to provide 100 re-usable sanitary kits to girls in Malawi, through our GATEWAY programme - the joy and freedom this gave these girls was wonderful to witness, thank you! This year, we would love to provide 500 more kits to girls in need in the communities we support and with your help, we can make this dream a reality!
We have set ourselves a target of raising £1,000 by the 7th January. If we meet our £1,000 target, your donations will be DOUBLED, matched pound for pound by some of Starfish Malawi's top supporters!
Just £4 provides a girl with a re-usable sanitary kit and gives her the gift of education.
Give the gift of education this Christmas
By teaching local communities how to produce the packs, our GATEWAY project strives to empower local women to take their future, and the futures of their daughters, into their own hands.
Just £4 buys a girl a re-usable sanitary towel and gives her the gift of education this Christmas.
Don't miss out on the opportuntity to double your donation this Christmas, please consider supporting our Christmas Appeal.
Thank you for all of your support throughout the year, we could not continue our work without the generous support of our Starfishers. May we wish you all a very happy Christmas.
"We cannot change the world immediately, but we can make a difference......one life at a time."
Starfish Malawi's Children's Clubs provide activities for children aged 5 to 16 in the Salima community of rural Malawi. Children take part in a range of activities including advice on practical living, understanding the Bible, sports and art.
The Children’s Clubs provide a safe environment for children to grow. The Starfish team in Malawi oversees these clubs weekly, run by trained volunteers and youth leaders. In the safe environment of the Children's Clubs, leaders teach the children safe ways to live so that they can maximise their joy in a country where poverty is rife.
Our sports equiptment is on it's last legs so last month we launched our StarfishBig30Appeal to buy 30 brand new footballs and 30 netballs for the children to play with.
We were overwhelmed with the support of our Starfishers and would like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported this appeal.
The people in the photo are Ian Bull, left, who is the Club Chairman of Kings Hill Football Club. I'm in the centre and Richard Morrison, right, is the Vice Chairman of the junior age groups plus kit.and equipment officer.
Jan Mileham, Starfish Committee Member and UK Nursery Co-ordinator said,
I first became aware of Starfish Malawi in 2010 after visiting Malawi on a Missions Trip with a charity called Soapbox. I joined the Starfish committee about 3 years ago and now I'm responsible for Nurseries and Children's Clubs.
The Starfish Big 30 Appeal was to raise money to buy 30 footballs and 30 netballs for the Children's Clubs in Salima, Malawi. The response has been very encouraging. Special thanks must go to Kings Hill Football Club for donating balls, kit and boots. I would also like to thank members of Connect Church, Maidstone who have given 17 new balls in total. Thanks also to members the Life Church in Maidstone and individuals who donated money.
Starfish Malawi Scheme - Free Money for Starfish Malawi
Chris Knott insurance has partnered with Starfish Malawi to help you donate money without it costing you!
Before Starfish Malawi was born in 2003, our Founder Chris Knott, started his own Insurance Company, Chris Knott Insurance, in 1983. When the call to go to Malawi happened and Starfish was formed, Chris sold his business, which still exists in his name today. Chris is no longer a shareholder, but the company has offered to pay some commission to Starfish Malawi if people get a quote and go ahead with a policy for any insurance product.
If the quotation is not good enough, then nothing is lost. However, if the quote is better, then you save money on your insurance and a donation is made to Starfish Malawi, helping us to continue our life-changing work - there is no catch!
You can get in touch for free on 0800 917 2274 and quote 'Starfish' to see how much money you could save - and support Starfish at the same time!
For more details you can also contact Chris on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the 1st October, Starfish hosted a special Education Dinner to celebrate another year of success in the Student Sponsorship Programme! The dinner was a wonderful opportunity to share good news and progress with Starfish Sponsors and to thank them for their continued support, without which, the Sponsorship Programme simply would not exist.
We welcomed over 65 guests to the special dinner, most of whom were sponsors, but teachers from our UK link schools and others interested in our work were also there to enjoy the evening. Together we raised over £1,200 to support our ongoing work!
The event was organised by key members of the Starfish team, Chris Knott, Holly Nicholls, Pam Thwaites and Maggie Mitchell with the support of Margaret Lewis, who will very shortly be heading out to live in Malawi to support the charity's educational projects.
Pam, our UK Sponsorship Programme Coordinator, said "I felt the event was a huge success, the sponsors were informed of many aspects of our work that they were previously unaware of. The whole event presented an informal, friendly atmosphere promoting our extremely worthwhile cause."
Our Founder, Chairman and CEO Chris Knott said "those who attended London Beach were surprised and excited by the scope of the work of Starfish in the realm of education. When we talk about schools linking and secondary school sponsorship, most people thought about fundraising and pen pal letters only, but they never knew that it included social justice, global citizenship, our place on the planet, creativity, diversity and much more....but many know now."
What is the Student Sponsorship Programme all about?
Our sponsored students are orphans or vulnerable children, and all come from very poor circumstances where there is no possibility of payment of school fees.
Sponsorship provides for school fees, board, food, most books and a small amount of pocket money. Assistance is provided for those who cannot afford uniforms. The cost of sponsorship is as little as £15 per month, or £180 for a full year. Sponsors receive details of their students background and a yearly school progress report and students write one letter to their sponsors every term.
Primary School education in Malawi is funded by the government. However Secondary School education is fee-paying only. So, for those families with barely enough money for food to survive, paying school fees is clearly out of the question.
We believe that education is a key to change. Sponsorship gives a child the means to escape from poverty and to change his or her life for good. Not only does it make a difference to a young person’s life, but sponsors tell us that it has made a difference to their lives too.
How can I get involved?
We would like to say a very big thank you to all of our sponsors who make this life-changing programme possible and to The London Beach Hotel their continued support.
On September 25th 2016, two Starfishers, Ben Cleaver and Jack McKay, will travel to Berlin, Germany to take on the Berlin Marathon for Starfish Malawi! Learn more about Ben, one of our amazing runners...
Nice to meet you, Ben! Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Ben, I live in New York but grew up in Kent where the Starfish Malawi connection started through my family. I'm a brand consultant and own a little brand design agency called Yellow. We helped Starfish last year by giving it a little face lift.
Will the Berlin Marathon be your first marathon?
This is my second marathon, the first was New York last year. I loved it, it's a unique experience and the atmosphere and support were amazing, and yet it wasn't easy. I definitely struggled with "the wall" at mile 21 and had to be helped over the finish line by my friend (which is why I've persuaded Jack to run with me this year). I ran that for Team for Kids, the official charity of the New York marathon and it seemed like a great idea to run this one for Starfish Malawi and hopefully encourage others to do the same in the future.
How's the training going?
Hmm..Id give it a 6 out of 10. I had tendonitis in my achilles, pretty common so I'm told. I had some sound advice from another Starfisher - Simon Thompson - who is a pro-marathon runner and that helped me out and now I'm feeling free of injury but a little slower than last year. Main thing is to get round, raise some money, have some fun, try not to cry, or be sick and grab a beer at the finish line (they give them out in Berlin apparently).
What inspired you to raise funds for Starfish Malawi?
My mum started my interest in Starfish Malawi. She works in a school that was linked with another in Salima and was able to visit some 6 or 7 years ago. Not only was she able to share her stories but she struck an amazing friendship up with the headmaster of the school - Rabson Mpinganjira, who was able to visit the uk thanks to Starfish. In 2012 I was ready to take a work sabbatical and spent 4 months traveling from Nairobi to Cape Town, including a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, which raised money for Starfish. I stopped in Malawi for 2 months and was hosted by Emmanuel and Mary-Anne and their wonderful children in the Starfish house and by Rabson at his home and his mothers home in the village. I was able to spend time in the schools, teach some classes, complete a project that connected children in Brooklyn with children in Salima and spend time with the team at Glad Tidings. It was an amazing, heart-warming, eye-opening experience. What struck me most was how friendly and happy and pure-hearted everyone was even when they had very little. Even compared to the people I met in other African countries. The children, and there are many of them in Malawi, are just amazing. And yet they don't have the luxury of being children for long, or even having a minimum education. Which is where Starfish Malawi can help.
What do you think makes Starfish Malawi is a little different?
Firstly the people. Every single person that works for Starfish does so because they care about making a difference. They care about every individual. It isn't a job. That applies to the team in the UK and the team in Malawi. There is a Christian foundation to the charity, I'm not a Christian myself but I believe in treating others as I would have them treat me, and I see that value being lived out by all the Starfishers. It's also a rarity to be able to support a charity where you know that every single penny raised goes directly to helping individuals, and you can follow the stories of the people you help. The sponsor a child program is one way you can do that, the school linking program another, but there are lots of intimate connections between people here and there. It's one big community, and hopefully it will get bigger.
How much money are you hoping to raise?
My minimum target is £779.30, I picked this because that is the distance in miles between Brooklyn and Salima , but I'm hoping to push it above £1,250! I have some friends and family nudging to do.
You can support Ben by sponsoring him though his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BenCleaverBerlin
Girls Access to Education (Gateway) update
Our Gateway programme works by training local women to make reusable sanitary hygiene kits. The women generate income from making the kits and the girls get to stay in school when they have their period, helping to break the cycle of poverty in Malawi.
- Since April 2016, a total of 286 packs have been distributed with a further 600 ready to distribute when schools return from holiday in September.
- Sewing groups at Katitima, Chitiwiri and Kaputu have set themselves a target of producing a further 200 packs each before the end of this month.
- This will bring us to a total of 1,486 kits distributed by the end of September 2016.
Thanks to your generosity, and generous donations from some charitable trusts, all the funding for the projected expenditure until September 2016 has already been secured, which will allow us to exceed our initial target!
“With the Gateway hygiene packs, I am very glad that I can now interact with my male teachers and fellow male students comfortably even during my menstruating days.” - Malesi Mchenga
After the distribution of our Gateway kits, there was an incredible 44% decrease in absenteeism! Not only have the Gateway hygiene packs really contributed to an improvement in girls’ attendance in school, it has also improved their participation in school activities like sports...
“The girls used to give excuses during netball games and training, but now they no longer shun away and I am sure it’s because of the Gateway hygiene packs.” Rebecca Grem, teacher at Ngolowindo Primary School
We are so grateful for the success of the Gateway project so far, our next ambitious target is to provide an additional 3,000 kits for girls across our link schools over the next year from October 2016 to September 2017. Could you help us make this happen?
To learn more about the Gateway programme, please visit our project page.
Can you imagine missing out on school or work every month, because of your period?
Without sanitary protection the vast majority of girls and women in Malawi are confined to their homes during menstruation and unable to participate in everyday activities. Therefore female students miss up to one quarter of school time, often including vital end of year exams, because of their menstrual cycle.
By teaching local communities how to produce the packs, GATEWAY strives to empower local women to take their future, and the futures of their daughters, into their own hands.
A huge thank you to Salehurst primary school who have donated life saving food supplies to the children at Katitima primary in Malawi.
With such a poor harvest last year, many people across Malawi are now struggling to feed themselves and their families, with many children unable to attend school due to hunger.
Staff, children and parents at Katitima were truly touched by the generosity demonstrated by their partner school.
14 teachers from Malawi made the 5,000 mile journey to spend 10 days with their Link school coordinators in the UK.
All the teachers had a fantastic time learning about life in the UK, whilst also making the most of the opportunity to teach and share ideas to take back home.
Each teachers will be writing a trip report after they return home tomorrow, and we will be able to share the best of these with you on our dedicated schools linking website - starfishers.net