The Raven Trust provides practical, direct support to needy communities in Malawi, East Africa. Take a look around this site and find out how anyone can get involved in the struggle to fight poverty!
Container FCL 84 arrives
On 10th December 2012 volunteers assembled at our store in Strachur to load FCL 84. On 10th April 2013 that same container arrived at Ekwendeni and was unloaded under the watchful eyes of Sue and John Challis
Amid great excitement the container was unloaded and boxes put in piles for the various recipients until they could load their boxes onto trucks for onward transport to destinations
The goods are received with great joy and gratitude – the smiles tell their own story
Sue’s Updates (5) Water and Wells
17 years ago, on my first visit to Malawi, I went with Kiston Mhango to renovate some wells and we discussed various water problems. I told him about computers – he thought I was a looney talking star wars rocket science!
Now we are installing broadband in Kiston’s office so that he can link up with the university to map wells, troubleshoot, access water testing, contact donors, find information and realise a very long-held vision. Kiston heads up the large Primary Health Care Department at Ekwendeni.
Kiston and Vesta are a remarkable couple. It was Kiston’s vision 30 years ago that initiated primary health care to the villages in Northen Malawi – a vision that has been replicated world-wide. Vesta leads the small businesses unit and has somehow made small businesses function where big aid agencies have failed.
There is a lot of other news about water – linking up various agencies, getting the practical work done, setting up a technology and development centre, water testing and planning. Hopefully we will get an update on that from John when he returns.
Sue’s Updates (4) Dental Unit and Smileawi
What a lovely surprise! Ekwendeni Hospital have appointed a dentist and technician! He presented the management with a long list of “needs” which was remarkably similar to the checklist drawn up by Nigel and Vicky Milne so much of it was on its way to Ekwendeni or was actually in the store 50 metres away until John sent it in the right direction. By now the new chair and facilities should be installed.
The next stage is to have broadband/Skype installed for training and professional backup/advice from the Milnes.
Sue’s Updates (3) Jamieson House
“Are we there yet?” – nearly! There are still plenty of jobs for visitors to do!
The local carpenter will be busy for some weeks yet but the house is habitable, comfortable and ready for guests, A big thank you to all the folk at Killearn, from the 1st year primary class to Mrs Jamieson whose legacy enables the building of the house. Pray that the facilities will be used well and that visitors will be able to contribute to Malawi and its people.
Contact for use of the house is via Rev Levi Nyondo at CCAP Synod of Livingstonia office in Mzuzu.
Sue’s Updates (2) Ekwendeni Maternity Unit
Many of you will know of the Maternity work at Ekwendeni. It is really where the Raven Trust started, helping Liz Mantell with nurses’ training.
A few years ago, a new maternity wing was built – unfortunately the builder couldn’t read plans…… Despite phone calls and pleading from us, the rooms were built too small for safe deliveries and teaching students. (I did offer to take a sledge hammer to some walls…)
At last, with new management and a new enthusiasm to turn Ekwendeni Hospital into a centre of excellence to compliment the good work of government and other local hospitals which have grown up in the last 10 years, there is a chance to rectify the problem. Talking with the Ekwendeni staff and management it became clear that they would like to keep the delivery block with its small rooms for specialist services such as kangaroo nursery – where mums and babies are kept warm instead of using an incubator – bereaved parents’ room, quiet recovery room, dad’s visiting room (men don’t usually visit maternity units, but ideas are changing), nurses’ library, nurses’shower and changing rooms, equipment sterilisation, equipment store, disposables store and video/Skype conferencing room for training.
It will take a little while to plan. Please pray with us for the right professional advice, good builders, modern equipment, etc. so that this hospital can, once again, be a beacon of best practice and training in Malawi.
The staff are amazing and we want to encourage them in their work of helping all those mums and babies.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant!
Rev Ted Mwambila passed into glory last week. Through the past 17 years he has been a faithful friend and counsellor to the Raven Trust and we will miss him a great deal. He encouraged us to get on with the work, smoothed out tricky situations and advised and cautioned us as the need arose. When things went wrong, and we didn’t understand why, Ted would always explain and help to get things straightened out. He rejoiced with us when things went well.
He has been less than well for some years, but even so, his death was sudden and unexpected. The CCAP will really miss him and his wise counsel.
Please pray for Ida and his daughters and for the Church in Malawi.
Sue’s Updates (1) – Hospital Supplies
Yippee! – good news!
Please email Rob Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any disposable hospital supplies because he knows what is now needed. Everything should be “in date” for at least 12 months to allow for transport and distribution.
Several large aid agencies have joined forces to supply and deliver basic drugs and disposables to every hospital and clinic in Malawi.This has made a tremendous difference to the finaces of these institutions and their ability to function. The Raven Trust did what it could for 17 years, “holding the fort”. Now the supplies are in place and what a joy it was to meet the medics who can now get on with their work without worrying about rationing their supplies.
Email/broadband connections mean we can now tailor the supplies we send to the needs – so saving on transport costs and waste. So, from now on, please only send supplies if you have the go-ahead from Rob Jones.
Thank you for all your sacrificial help in the past – it kept many clinics open and functioning through very difficult times.
Baby clothes/knitting, sheets and blankets are always needed.
Welcome Home Sue
Sue Challis has just returned from Malawi with lots of news and stories. It has been at least seven years since she was last there and there have been many changes in that time. Over the next few days we will be sharing many of her stories and observations with you, here on the Raven Trust website.
Watch this space!
Sue in Malawi
Sue Challis is in Malawi for the first time in a number of years. She is enjoying her trip, meeting up with folks that she hasn’t seen since her last trip, those who have visited Strachur and those she has only heard about from John.
One of the visits she made was to Ekwendeni Hospital which, in many ways, was the birthplace of the Raven Trust. The children’s ward there is very busy and they are extremely short of sheets. If anyone has access to a supply of surplus sheets, Sue would love to hear from you.
We look forward to hearing all about Sue’s visit and seeing her photos when she returns to the UK.
Return to Malawi
John Challis has returned to Malawi with a long “to do” list, but this time Sue has gone with him to help out.
It has been several years since Sue was last in Malawi and it will be interesting to find out what difference she sees in the country since her last visit.
John will be in Malawi for 6 weeks although Sue will be back at the beginning of May
1 container – pipes, 2 elephants, a horse and a fire engine!
Zenda is a small village miles from anywhere in northern Malawi. The road over a stream to the school is impassable in the wet season. Hence no children go to school for 3 months of the year. This will soon be a thing of the past as John Challis of the Raven Trust will be going out later in the year to build a culvert type bridge. Pipes have been donated by both George Leslie and a company in Ayr. They were delivered to Strachur a few weeks ago and taken to McKerrell’s yard for storage. It was here that they were loaded into the recent container by a team of local volunteers. Once in Malawi they will be held at Ekwendeni and then transported up to Zenda and the local work will begin.
Also on this container are 2 elephants, a horse, a fire engine and a motorbike – part of a load of playground equipment bound for Msongwe from Northern Ireland.
The pipes were loaded into the container by the staff at McKerrall’s and the container was then driven to the Raven Trust store where the playground equipment and over 300 boxes were loaded. Luckily the day was cold but dry.
The Raven Trust would like to thank the donors, staff at McKerrall’s and, of course, our own band of willing volunteers without whom none of this work would be possible.
Dr Lynn Dowds visits the Raven Trust
Dr Lynn Dowds (and husband Johnnie) from the David Gordon Memorial Hospital at Livingstonia recently spent a weekend with the Raven Trust discussing their work and needs at Livingstonia and how the Raven Trust can help. During their time with us there was an opportunity for them to visit Pitlochry and the shop that supplies most of the bikes which go out to Malawi in our containers and to thank the owners for providing the bikes over the years. Some 320 have been sent so far, every one fully serviced and boxed and ready for loading!
Many have gone to Ekwendeni PHC /Hospital and the Theological College and, following the Dowds visit, we now want to send some to Livingstonia for the health workers in the community to assist them in getting around their villages and to/from Livingstonia.
Alba Aid’s work with the Raven Trust in Malawi
Bob and Jan Baxter have been working with Alba Aid alongside the Raven Trust for many years in Malawi. We asked them to tell us more about their work.
Following the successful establishment of a library and resource facilities for teacher development and pupil use in Mzuzu it was requested that a similar provision be provided for the Lakeshore schools below Livingstonia. This cluster of 12 primary schools is centred at Luwuchi under the auspices of a Primary Education Advisor [PEA].
Amazing generosity from Scottish schools from Ayrshire to Caithness has enabled a central library/resource and development centre to be opened in 2012 at Luwuchi serving as a centre with hubs at Chitimba and Mlowe at the extremities of the zone. This enables easier accessibility for the other 9 schools that are geographically further afield. The current project is to ensure that these schools will also have some library provision but can draw on the larger units for a wider range of material; the idea being to maximise availability for as many as possible. The excitement on the faces of staff, children and community leaders, as the boxes of games, books and stationery, are opened is an absolute joy. The new lakeshore electricity supply has allowed us to initiate provision of computers, including laptops which can be charged at the clinic and then used by pupils in the schools. Support for teachers and pupils in the even more remote lakeshore schools at Tcharro & Zunga continues thanks to Good Hope (marine ambulance).
Without the thoughtful and enthusiastic support of schools, churches, groups that gather together for constructive fellowship and the myriad of unsung heroes this would not be happening. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our local Morrisons Supermarket for their unstinting supply of banana boxes and to the Raven Trust for helping them arrive safely where they are so badly needed. Our friend, Baldwin, the storeman at DGM Hospital, Livingstonia does a great job in shuttling the boxes to Luwuchi, whenever he sees any space on the ambulance.
Where education is perceived as the way out of poverty the least we can do is to try and provide support. To date more than 100 boxes of supplies have been distributed, and we plan to spend more time in 2013 continuing to live in the villages and consolidating this provision.
Change in loading dates
Please note that FCL 86 will now load on 20th March instead of the date previously published. FCL85 will be loading on 27th February as stated.
And for our next trick…..
We receive some very strange donated items here in Strachur.
Recently a quantity of pipes were delivered to be shipped out to Malawi. These will be used in the construction of several bridges one of which will be at Zenda near Rhumphi – a remote village that a Rotary group have helped in the past.
As part of John’s visit later in the year he will work with the local community to construct the bridge which will provide a safe road linking communities with the local school etc. No excuses now!