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Thank you for helping us celebrate

OD webFriends of the Raven Trust gathered in the Strachur Memorial Hall this afternoon to help us celebrate the 100th container which will be sent to Malawi in the New Year. Unfortunately many friends were unable to attend due to the weather which was pretty bad, even for the west of Scotland! Reports on the latest work by the Raven Trust were given by John Challis and Alan Laverock (Raven Trust directors) and Annibale Coia – one of the dentists with the Smileawi team. A report of Focus on Malawi’s work (eye care specialist team) was also given by John as Sue and John Kevan had to cancel their visit. Sue Challis wound up the afternoon with a report on Raven Trust plans for the next couple of years.

We also had our film premiere of “100 containers and counting…” though no red carpets were in evidence – presumably another casualty of the inclement weather!

To all those who braved the elements to come to Strachur and to the many more who were with us in spirit – thank you. Without you there would BE no Raven Trust

Come and join the celebration!

100 containers2On Saturday 28th November the Raven Trust will be holding an open day to celebrate the 100th container being sent to Malawi early next year. The “100 containers and counting…” open day will be held in Strachur Memorial Hall from 2.00 – 4.30 pm when a variety of people will talk about the work of the Raven Trust and show pictures to illustrate it. Tea and coffee will be served – so come and join us for the celebration!

A word of thanks from Ekwendeni

DSC02561Receive greetings from Ekwendeni Hospital in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I write on behalf of management and staff and communities around Ekwendeni Hospital to express our appreciation for the items, equipment and supplies you donated which arrived and were off-loaded here at Ekwendeni on 30.10.2015.
Please also extend our thanks to all your team members and families including all those who supported your Trust so that you can be able to support us as you have done. We also thank John Challis for his tireless follow up in making sure that the container has arrived safely, and items have been collected by the intended beneficiaries.
Here are some of the pictures taken when the truck carrying the items just arrived, items being off-loaded and some of the items being collected by beneficiaries.
Once again, we thank you very much and we ask GOD to keep on blessing you in your every day undertaking.

Yours in service,
Senior Administrative Officer

Johnny & Lyn Dowds visit the Raven Trust

IMG_0946Volunteers and friends of the Raven Trust had the pleasure of a visit from Lyn and Johnny Dowds who are in the UK on furlough from Livingstonia in Malawi. Dr Lyn works at the David Gordon Memorial Hospital there while Johnny undertakes various projects, including repairs to the Gorodi Road. Lyn gave a presentation of her life and work in Livingstonia and told stories of the people she has met and worked with.

FCL 98 unloads at Ekwendeni

unloading FCL 98FCL 98 reached Ekwendeni and unloaded today (Friday). Thanks to Fiona Gunning and the Kwenderana Partnership Group for the photo

Water Well Repairs

Well repairIt has been found that many wells are either not working efficiently or not working at all.  Work has continued to identify wells needing repairs, and plotting and recording their position with GPS etc.  Local teams from Ekwendeni Hospital have been trained to undertake and record the necessary work.  Once finished the people, particularly the women, are very grateful and appreciate having water available locally rather than having to walk long distances to collect water

Bridge Building at Zenda

Zenda bridgeThis bridge will enable the community at Zenda to have all weather crossing of the local river. Previously, in the wet season the river was impassable so the children could not get to school or people to clinic services and the local trading centre.
The community is building this bridge and the piers have been started. A new track has had to be cleared to a place where a bridge was possible. In September the road decking will be constructed. Funding has come from various groups in Scotland and the Raven Trust has provided the materials and technical skills while the Chief has mobilized the local communities to be involved in the labour of building.

FCL 98 loaded in Dundee

Huge pile of boxes bound for Malawi

Huge pile of boxes bound for Malawi

The latest Raven Trust container was loaded in Dundee on Saturday 6th June. The picture shows the huge pile of boxes waiting to be loaded by hand. Luckily we have a great team to do the work cheerfully. We have just heard that the ship will not leave Grangemouth until Wednesday 17th June due to shipping delays but, hopefully, the container will reach Ekwendeni in early September. Thank you to Iain and Trevor for going through to Dundee to manage the paperwork and to lend their expertise with the loading. Thank you, too, to all of the wonderful team in Dundee and to all those who donated the goods – we couldn’t do it without you!

3 weeks in Malawi – impressions of a visitor

people and places1In May 2015 I went on a three week trip to Malawi with the Trust.  John (Challis, the trust director) describes these kind of visits as ‘Challis’s Dodgy Tours’ however there was nothing dodgy about this tour.

A trip like this is largely what you make of it, and what you observe during it.  I was never allowed to call my trip a ‘holiday’ and personally I would rate it more as ‘work experience’ or maybe life experience.  I was privileged to visit three hospitals, one health centre, eight schools, four higher education institutions, four wells and was driven then walked a hill to 4700 feet to look at two water tanks. John was fitter going up the hill than I was!

I attended two churches and four church services – three of them in one day (English, Tumbuka and Pentecostal in Tumbuka).  I sat by the shores of Lake Malawi for a little while, played tag and football (using rolled up plastic bags) with school children and learned that clothes need to be ironed for health reasons – and not just to make clothes look good!

I learned more than I expected and less than I wanted to – there is always more to learn and in the eighteen days I was in the country I only started to gain an insight into the local cultures.  Malawi, it seems to me, is a country undergoing a fast transition, moving between the old and the modern, and perhaps trying to accommodate both.  The work that the Trust is doing, and the people they are working with (both in and outside of Malawi), looks to help the people of Malawi in a positive way.

As I sit in my home in Scotland I find it hard to believe I was there, but my photos tell me I that I was there.  Thank you John and the Raven Trust for experiences that will stay with me for a long time.

FCL 97 arrives

FCL 97 arrivesFCL 97 has arrived at Ekwendeni and is preparing to unload as I write this. The picture was sent by one of the folk waiting to receive much needed boxes of goods from the container. At the moment they are awaiting the arrival of MRA (Malawian Revenue Authority) who attend the breaking of the seal and opening of the container

Northern Malawi Day of Prayer

Picture2A day of prayer is being held throughout northern Malawi on Saturday 2nd May, initiated by the CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian) Synod of Livingstonia. The Synod have extended an invitation worldwide to join them in their prayers for Malawi.

Malawi is facing challenging times, both economically and spiritually. Following the floods earlier in the year many are homeless and food will be in short supply. The leaders need wisdom and guidance as the decisions they make affect the lives of ordinary people.

The local Christian community grows day by day and look for the resources to support people and enable them to share and live their faith. Praise God for the witness of His people in the difficult circumstances of poverty and lack of resources.

More Container Tales

Cervical Screening at Nkhoma

Heather Cubie 1One of the great things about helping with the loading of Raven Trust containers is the number of interesting people you can meet and the stories they have to tell. On the left is a picture of Professor Heather Cubie who has been leading a team setting up a sustainable cervical screening programme in Nkhoma Hospital and 5 surrounding health centres. She came to Strachur with a microscope, bench centrifuge and ultrasound scanner to be securely packed and sent off in the container.

In Malawi, cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer among women of reproductive and economically important age and has a 80% mortality.There is no national screening programme for cervical cancer and many women have inadequate access to treatment. Ostracisation of women with severe symptoms and limited palliative care add to the misery of sufferers.

In the first 2 years of the scheme which is partly funded by the Scottish Government, the team got permission from 84 Group Village Headmen to speak to around 30,000 people in the region and, in addition, a potential 120,000 have been reached by local radio broadcasts. 24 Malawian health professionals have been trained to provide the service and treat early lesions and 75% of those  with early signs of abnormality are treated the same day.

Sadly the clinics still see too many women with cancers which are too advanced for immediate treatment and there is little that Malawi can offer in terms of chemo- or radiotherapy, but the project does ensure that there women have their diagnoses fully explained and are offered surgery or palliative care where appropriate.

Year 3 of the project will extend the service to 5 more health centres and consolidate training. If more funding can be secured, the team hope to extend their ‘hub and spokes’ model to additional hospitals and their health centres.



FCL 97 on the road to Malawi

FCL97 loadsThere was quite a bit of snow about as a great team of volunteers arrived at the store in Strachur to load FCL 97 with a static and 2 mobile dental chairs, medical and dental equipment, hospital supplies, bedding, clothing for babies, children and adults, sewing machines, knitting machines and a seemingly endless variety of much needed goods for the folk of northern Malawi. Think we broke our own record for loading today and with a friendly wave from driver Ian, FCL 97 set out on the long journey to Ekwendeni where she should arrive in May. God speed FCL 97!

Dundee and Strachur Stores

Raven_0021. Just a reminder that the Dundee store at 11 Peddie Street Dundee DD1 5LP is open every Saturday morning from 10 am – 12 noon. Container FCL 96 which was loaded at Dundee on 6th December 2014 arrived safely and was unloaded at Ekwendeni on 10th February. We hope that the next container to load at Dundee will load in April.

IMGP11492. FCL 97 will load at Strachur on 4th March. The contents, as usual, are very varied and include educational books and supplies, specialist medical equipment, baby clothing and bedding. The container should arrive in Ekwendeni during John’s visit to Malawi in June

Malawi rains – Baula

Picture2These are pictures of the current position at Baula – about 10 miles west of Ekwendeni Hospital. There are many reports of serious flooding in the south of Malawi. The north is also being affected as at Baula. Recently planted crops of maize and sweet potatoes have been washed out or have rotted and what is left is not growing well. The situation looks bleak for people and families at Baula and elsewhere in the country for the coming months. We have also received reports of damage to housing and property. Goods from the Raven Trust containers such as clothing and bedding are being distributed by the CCAP (Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian) Synod to those who have been affected.