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!

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Progress on Water Projects


During his visit to Malawi in April and May, Kevin Bickerstaffe led a team of water engineers from the PHC department at Ekwendeni and Livingstonia hospitals repairing and maintaining shallow and borehole wells. They have also been erecting fencing around well heads to protect the well head from animal contamination.

John Littlejohn  was also in Malawi,  testing the water quality particularly with regard to coliform bacteria. Next year he hopes to return assess the difference that fencing makes to the water quality readings.

In the two months of Kevin’s visit it is estimated that improved water has been supplied to over 14,000 people.  Some had no clean water supply for years and were using scrapes in the ground as their main drinking water source. One person commented that the new water was a ‘miracle for the village’

John Challis OBE

John3It was with the greatest of pleasure that we heard the announcement on Saturday that John Challis had been awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

John has been Principal Trustee of the Raven Trust since its inception in 2000 and was sending parcels, part loads and then full containers  to Malawi before that.

On hearing of the award John said,”What a surprise and honour!  As you know the Raven Trust is a partnership of many people with many skills and with the tremendous opportunity of serving the people of Malawi in various ways.”

FCL 102 arrives at Ekwendeni

13415638_1768591076720135_2629289177227452011_oNews arrived this morning that FCL 102 has arrived at Ekwendeni and has been unloaded. It is winter in Malawi and the warm clothes and blankets on the container will be very welcome. Alan tells us “Boxes were transported on top of cars, inside cars, in minibuses, on lorries, on bicycles and on women’s heads”. Smiles all round!

Dundee Depot Full

IMG_0001The team at the Dundee depot have been hard at work listing all the boxes of goods that the generous supporters of the Raven Trust and other charities have taken there. As a result, the depot is now full and cannot accept any boxes that have not already been arranged to be received. A container will be loaded as soon as sufficient funds become available We would, therefore,  ask that you delay deliveries until after FCL 103 has been loaded, probably around mid-July. Thank you.

Update from John on the floods around Mzuzu

John reports that the CCAP Livingstonia Synod Office, Esther Lupafya of Ekwendeni Hospital AIDs dept and others have taken boxes of blankets and clothing sent out on Raven Trust containers to victims of the floods in and around Mzuzu.

Also in the last few days, World Food Programme workers have set up an office in Mzuzu to co-ordinate delivery of relief supplies of maize to needy communities.  In today’s paper (the Weekend Nation) it is reported that the Government is making available to beneficiary households, pregnant mums, lactating women and children under 2,  50kg of maize cereal, 6 kg of pulses and 2 litres of cooking oil.

The rain has ceased in the last two days. We have received reports from both Ekwendeni and Nkhoma hospitals that cases of malaria are much higher than they have experienced in the last two or three years, especially in children.

More pictures of the arrival of FCL 100

Picture1A few more pictures of the arrival and unloading of the Raven Trust’s 100th container in Picture2Ekwendeni, Malawi. These pictures courtesy of Mr Patrick Tembo, Senior Administrative Officer at Picture4Ekwendeni Hospital, who receives the containers and organises the unloading of goods and the storage of those boxes which are not immediately collected. Thank you Patrick.

Crops report from John in Malawi

downloadIn the past few weeks there have been reports in the media of crop failures in Malawi.

John has just arrived in Malawi and travelled up from Lilongwe to Mzuzu. It appears there are a number of complex issues besides the very late rains which continued longer than usual. In the central  region the crop yields are down between 50% and 25%. Much of the crop is standing ready for harvesting and the estimate  looks right as many fields will produce very low yields particularly if the farmer or family could not afford fertilizer or planted at the wrong time ( for the odd rain pattern this year) The maize which has been harvested is left on the field to dry and ripen. However the recent heavy late rains have damaged the drying cobs

In the northern region where the maize is harvested later the crops are at a critical stage .When  the rains were needed to swell the cobs before harvesting the weather was dry and the cobs did not fully mature. Further north in the Livingstonia synod area the rains have been good and a good crop expected.

However, on visiting Ekwendeni hospital and speaking with staff, the wards are packed. In the children’s ward, there are often 3 to a bed at night- mostly malaria and nutrition issues. The staff say the current position is the worst they have seen for many years, and the shortage of food is becoming a worrying factor. Many families are currently down to 2 small meals a day of meagre rations.

Heavy recent flooding in the Mzuzu area has affected many families and the CCAP and others have been involved in a relief exercise in providing hot food, blankets and clothing.    The Livingstonia hospital and the mission station on the Livingstonia plateau are inaccessible due to rain damage and  government ‘construction work’ on the Gorodi road and landslips on the back road.

Container 100 unloaded in wall to wall sunshine – otherwise there has been almost continuous rain since John arrived..

FCL 100 arrives in Ekwendeni

FCL 100 EKWJohn Challis was present at Ekwendeni Hospital today as the 100th Raven Trust container arrived to be unloaded. It had set off from Strachur just under two months ago and was welcomed with great excitement as John explained the significance of this particular container to those around him. Just 58 days door to door!

The Raven Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who donated the goods which went to fill the container, all those who gifted the money to send the container, all those who helped to load and to send FCL 100 safely on its way and all those in Malawi who unloaded and helped to distribute its contents.

Smiles for Smileawi

SmileawiSmileawi was set up as a Raven Trust project in October 2012 after Nigel and Vicky Milne, two dentists from Dunoon , went to Malawi with John Challis to assess the dental services available in northern Malawi, accompanied by Clyde, a teddy bear  who helped to break the ice with many of their younger patients.

Since that first visit, Nigel and Vicky have returned to Malawi every year with a steadily growing team of dentists and dental nurses (though Clyde has retired in favour of Flossie!) They have raised funds to take their team out to Malawi and support them while there, received donated goods ranging from full dental suites and sterilisers to toothbrushes and bought more, much needed, dental equipment and supplies, including mobile dental chairs for outlying clinics and dental anaesthetic of which there is a great shortage in Malawi.

Smileawi has also set up prevention programmes in schools and gathers together dental therapists and assistants every year in a conference to discuss dental services and ways to improve this, offer training and distribute dental supplies.

Smileawi has now become a Registered Scottish Charity in its own right and we would like to congratulate Flossie, Nigel, Vicky and the rest of the team on passing this milestone. We wish them all the best with their future work which will still be in close association with the Raven Trust.

Bon Voyage FCL 102

Picture1On a wet and windy 1st April, just after dawn, MSC Ishyka set off down the Clyde from Greenock carrying FCL 102 on the first leg of its sea voyage to Beira in Mozambique. From there the container will be carried onward by road to the Malawian Revenue Authority premises in Lilongwe in Malawi and eventually on to Ekwendeni.

The container, which was loaded at Dundee on Saturday 19th March, was delayed on its journey, first by a strike at Grangemouth which caused it to be diverted to Greenock, and then by bad weather which held up MSC Ishyka causing her to be late into Greenock. It will probably reach its destination in June.

Meanwhile FCL 100 has been landed at Beira and will begin its road journey to Malawi soon.

100th Raven Trust container

100 container (800x575)On Wednesday 17 February, the Raven Trust sent out container number 100! This represents a massive 120,000 boxes of all different shapes and sizes. And at today’s value, this has cost a whopping £1.2m. If the containers were parked end to end, they would stretch for almost a mile! And if the boxes were lined up, they would reach from Strachur to Glasgow! The amazing thing is that every single box and every single penny of this has been donated by the general public.

On behalf of the people of Northern Malawi, who are among the poorest people in the world, grateful thanks are due to each and every person who has been part of this effort.

But it is not just the people who have donated goods and money. Thanks are also due to the very many people who have contributed time. Tasks include receiving boxes, sorting and repacking where necessary, labelling, packing the containers, catering for the packing days, driving vans to collect items, processing the lists, preparing the paperwork for international freight and so much more. It is impossible to count the number of different people who have had a hand in making all this possible; but it is certainly many hundreds. Grateful thanks to each of these.

Container number 100 is a landmark occasion. It is also the last container to be sent out from Strachur. But it not the end of the work of the Raven Trust. A depot has been opened in Dundee which means that this work can continue unabated

100th container loaded at Strachur

100 container webOn Wednesday 17th February 2016 the Raven Trust’s 100th container loaded at Strachur. Although cold, the weather was dry apart from one heavy hail storm. The contents of the container included a dental x-ray unit, a communion table for a new church in Mzuzu, educational books and resources, medical supplies, knitted clothing for babies and young children, agricultural/horticultural equipment and tools and toys.

This is the last container which will be loaded at Strachur – in future containers will leave from our store at Dundee. We would like to express our gratitude to all our many volunteers who have helped load containers over the years, to our drivers from Fraser Haulage and A & D Logistics and to MSC – the shipping company which has delivered all our containers safely to Malawi.

Boxes for containers

DSC_0310%20Made%20it%20AgainOn Wednesday, 17th February container FCL 100 will be loaded in Strachur. This will be the last container to be loaded there – in future containers will normally be loaded in Dundee.

The address of the Dundee store is :- 11 Peddie Street, Dundee, DD1 5LB and it is open on Saturday mornings from 10 am until 12 noon unless by special arrangement (01382 351812)

All boxes sent by post or carrier should be sent to :- The Raven Trust, c/o Alan Laverock, 4 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RP until further notice (07786 541701). Please do not request that boxes be signed for at time of receipt.

Please note that all boxes should be strong, tightly packed and securely sealed with the recipient’s name, address, contact details and a brief description of the box contents on the outside of the box.

Please do not put instructions for delivery or cheques for the Raven Trust inside the box. Cheques should be sent to the Raven Trust at Bay Villa Strachur as usual.

If sending sewing machines or anything similar, please make sure that they are in working order – those which are not will not be sent!

Thank you


Happy New Year

6a00d83473f9dc69e201bb07d0bf39970dAll of us at the Raven Trust would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our friends and supporters a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2016

Notice – future containers