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!
Water Well Repairs
It 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
This 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
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
In 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 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
A 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
One 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
There 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
1. 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.
2. 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
These 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.
Strachur store re-opens
After a short break, the Strachur store is again open. This store is not manned full time, so if you want to deliver goods please get in touch, by email in the first instance (email@example.com), giving your name, contact details and a short description of quantity and type of goods to be delivered.
Val Symons is a PE teacher who has been visiting Malawi for a number of years with the Focus on Malawi team. She has built up a relationship with Teachers and pupils at Ekwendeni Srcondary School and sent them balls and equipment for netball with a Raven Trust container. However, they had no netball stands.
This year Val returned to Malawi and John Challis organised the manufacture of poles, bases and hoops by the local blacksmith. Paint, in Malawi, comes in 5 litre cans and is white, but John managed to find a small pot of blue paint for the stands. The school was delighted and we have just received a letter from Val saying
‘I have had a lovely email from Abel at Ekwendeni Secondary School – thanking me for the posts and kit and hoping to organise matches with another school – he was very complimentary about the quality of the posts so we shall have to thank your blacksmiths….’
We just never know what John will get involved with during his visits to Malawi, but well done to all !
The Raven Trust store at Peddie Street, Dundee will be closed on Saturday 27th December 2014 and Saturday 3rd January 2015