By Alastair Brian
As the holiday started, pupils from the Southside Primary School, St Angela’s, proved they had the X Factor by writing a charity single for Malawi.
All proceeds from their song – ‘Miles Apart’ – will go to the Scottish charity Mary’s Meals to feed 60 Malawian children for a year.
St. Angela’s Head Teacher, Brendan Duff, is very proud of his P6 pupils, who wrote the lyrics and melody with help from their teachers. He said: ‘During Religious Education (RE) the pupils were learning about people we admire and they learned a little bit about a man named Magnus who started Mary’s Meals.
‘It was then decided, in music, to try to write a song that we could sell for the charity. The youngsters learned about writing lyrics through poetry and as a class they made up a melody.
‘As a school we are delighted with the result. It’s been a good experience for everyone to take part in the recording process.
‘Our aim is to see if we can raise as much money as possible for the charity.
‘We feel that this is a very worthwhile cause because Mary’s Meals currently feeds over 600,000 children every day across the world.
‘In Malawi it costs just £7.00 to feed a child for a year and our school wants to do everything we can to contribute.’
Mary’s Meals was created in 2002 by Magnus McFarlane-Burrow, as an extension of his Scottish International Relief (SIR) charity. A chance meeting with a family in Malawi,while he was working on a famine relief project, led to a whole new area of work. A mother was dying of AIDS and lying on the floor of her hut surrounded by her six young children. She said that all that was left for her was to pray that someone might look after her children after she died.
Then Magnus asked her oldest son what he hoped for in life. His reply: ‘To have enough food to eat and to go to school one day,’ was not easily forgotten.
This was the main inspiration for the Mary’s Meals programme, which aims to provide one meal every school day for chronically hungry children. This way the children are encouraged to gain the education they need to lift themselves from a life of poverty.
Today the Mary’s Meals initiative provides meals to impoverished children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America.
The charity’s Education co-ordinator said: ‘I visited St Angela’s school recently and I was very impressed by their whole approach – from working out how much it costs to feed a child in maths; to writing the lyrics for the song in music. This has been an enriching, learning, experience for every young person involved. It’s also lovely that it’s children here helping less fortunate children in Malawi.
‘Mary’s Meals is delighted that the school chose our charity and we would like to thank everyone for their continued fundraising efforts.’
The song is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CDbaby, and costs 89p.
A woman from Zimbabwe has been deported by UK BA to Malawi and is now held captive by police in Kenya.
Her friends and sister Zimbabwean citizens, fear for her. ‘It is inhuman what is happening to her,’ said Patience Sazangwe who is herself a political asylum seeker. ‘Is it because she is a woman and an asylum seeker that people think they can do what they want to her?’
Close friend Shelly Davidson said: ‘It is heartbreaking. I’m close to tears each time one of the men who say they are prison officers, phones. They won’t let her speak in her own language and she is crying all the time. She is in hell. The men say she needs around £1000 to be released. She tells me she’s been raped three times so far and made to sleep in a mortuary. I don’t know how the UK BA can send her to Malawi when she is from Zimbabwe.’
Both friends consider it is a way to massage the deportation figures as Britain now considers it safe for UK citizens to travel to Zimbabwe and is therefore sending back asylum seekers from Zimbabwe but doing it indirectly via Malawi. The European Union advises people not to go to Zimbabwe.
Agnes Namakonde, who lived in Edinburgh and reported regularly to the UK BA authorities, was detained on 14 October. She was on a Kenya Airways flight on 18 October to Malawi.
On arrival the Malawi authorities imprisoned Agnes. They took her from Malawi to Zimbabwe where she was refused entry in Nyamapande. The reason was because she had been refused asylum in the UK. She was taken back to Malawi and made to sleep in a mortuary where she was raped. A local woman befriended her and gave her a mobile phone. She was advised to go to Kenya . But police in Kenya caught her without any documentation except the deportation letter from Zimbabwe.
Agnes is now believed by her friends to be in prison at Kakuma Police Station in Kenya or Lumba Prison. The guards call almost daily to her friends in Scotland demanding money. Shelly believes Agnes has been raped three times, at least, while in Kenya.
Said Patience: ‘When any of us goes to sign in as we have to for UKBA, we are afraid. We could be next to disappear in the way Agnes has been made to disappear.’
Five centuries of choral music will be celebrated on Thursday 23 June to raise funds for Malawi. The concert will be free, but donations offered at the door of Wellington Church, 77 Southpark Avenue Glasgow G12 8LE will go to Christian Aid. The event is one organised by the West End Churches through their Christian Aid Malawi Partnership Project. Each pound raised will be matched 9 times by the Scottish Government’s Development Fund. The money will advance educational work in Malawi on Aids and HIV.
A host of composers from Tallis, Byrd, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Elgar to Rutter will have their work sung by the famous ‘Gloria’ West End Choir conducted by Ian Anderson. Margaret Milton is the soprano soloist and Alan Kitchen will be the organist. In addition, organ solos will be performed by Malcolm Sim and Jonathan Salmond with Rosemary Guerrier as percussionist and Andrew Gordon as timpanist. A glorious evening of music again beckons.
Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow hosted a Fair Trade Extravaganza last week when the school, was awarded Fair Trade School Status for their dedication to and promotion of Fair Trade, over the past eight years.
Parents, pupils, teachers, friends, Service Director for Education Maureen McKenna and invited politicians, Robert Brown MSP, Tom Harris MP, Patrick Harvie MSP, Anne McLaughlan MSP and MEP David Martin enjoyed an afternoon of speeches, presentations, a Fair Trade Buffet and a display of Fair Trade Fashion Design as the pupils relished the opportunity to share their hard work. Monica Sgouros also modelled her T Shirt design, which has been adopted as the Glasgow Fair Trade Logo.
MEP David Martin commended Speech maker Mairead MacRae, who earlier this year had been to Strasbourg as part of the Youth Citizenship initiative, and who spoke ‘as well as any politician I have heard in the Plenary at Strasbourg.’
Mr Martin also commented: ‘I was truly proud to be part of this event and am full of admiration for the school, its pupils and staff. Not only have they promoted Fair Trade within Holyrood but they have also linked with schools in Malawi where many Holyrood students have gone to help in work to develop the educational system and infrastructure there.’
Green Party Leader Mr Harvie added: ‘I was delighted to attend the Holyrood Fair Trade Celebration. It was wonderful to meet young people who are passionate about justice and fighting for a fair deal for everyone across the globe. My warmest congratulations to the hard-working pupils and teachers at Holyrood Secondary on being awarded their Fair Trade School Certificate.’
Mr Brown, Ms McLaughlan and Mr Harris were all very complimentary about the event. The pupils and staff were thrilled to welcome so many people to share their celebration and will be continuing their work in the future.
A group of Glasgow University student volunteers, planning to work in Africa this summer, has been left ‘speechless’ by an anonymous internet donor who gave £1,000 to their cause.
The kind-hearted stranger, known as ‘Muslim Wellwisher’, left the Malawi-bound party from Student Volunteers Abroad the four-figure donation and the message, ‘God bless, and Peace be with you’.
On seeing the gift, co-ordinator Casey Bryce e-mailed the volunteers, telling them: ‘… some angel made an actually unbelievable anonymous donation of £1,000 on our charitygiving page.’
The volunteers have a target of £9,000 to raise to cover their personal costs, with a small amount going to a partner non-governmental organisation to assist with accommodating the team.
‘I was actually speechless when I saw it. It just goes to show that people do genuinely believe in what we were doing and are willing to support us,’ said Casey.
Among the gigs, ceilidhs and quiz night fundraisers, volunteer Sarah MacDonald took the adventurous – and drastic – step of a sponsored head shave. Sarah is likely to have raised £700 for the trip with her brave gesture.
The 14-strong Glasgow University party will spend 10 weeks in the township of Bangwe, teaching and running extra-curricular activities in schools and orphanages.
The volunteers will also be working with youth and women’s groups on issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness and gender equality.