BY Staff Reporter | January 19 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Celebrations as Malawi’s Gift to Scotland is received into the Church at St John’s

A young man who went from living on the streets of Malawi as a child to a university student in Scotland recently celebrated an occasion to remember, as he was received into the Church

20-year-old Gift Thompson (right) was Baptised, Confirmed and received his first Holy Communion on Sunday January 7, the feast of the Epiphany, during 9.30am Mass at St John’s Church in Portobello, Edinburgh.

Mr Thompson, who has been studying sociology at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh for the past six months, came to Scotland through STEKA, a Malawian charity that helps to provide sustainable futures for children and young people in the southeastern African country who are vulnerable or homeless.

Mr Thompson was a ‘street kid’ in Malawi, who found shelter along with 65 other children at the STEKA Care Home, run by Godknows Meseko, who also lived on the streets as a child, and his wife Helen.

The grassroots charity is led by Mr Meseko, with STEKA developing an innovative model for the past 10 years to give young people sustainable futures, providing a family care home and supporting others to live in their own homes.

Mr Thompson is currently living with QMU lecturer Emma Wood and her family in ­Portobello, after she learned of the charity through her daughter.

Ms Wood’s daughter was working in Malawi for 18 months with STEKA, and on a visit to see her daughter she met ‘inspiring’ young people who spoke of their ambitions, which were ‘fantastically high despite only one per cent of the population in Malawi having the opportunity to go to college or university.’

Mr Thompson is the second student to be hosted at the university on a scholarship, with 23-year-old Sandra Ndale ­studying at QMU for six months last year, who was able to develop her film-making and photography skills which she is using back in Malawi to give a voice to others like her.

“By studying here with us, we believe that Gift will forge connections and relationships which will help STEKA thrive into the future,” Ms Wood said. “And we also know, from experience, that he will enrich our students’ experience and learning.

“Our partnership has led to profound ‘real-life’ learning and personal development of staff and students. During reflections, students have talked about the importance of family, the meaning of community and resilience, what a privilege education is and how to recognise and value their powerful position in the world. It has inspired QMU staff and students to come together to support STEKA and it’s great for morale to know that our QMU community can make a difference like this.”

Mr Thompson’s godparents were Kathy Gallagher from the RCIA group and Chris Jones from the St John’s Music Group, both groups within the parish with which Mr Thompson has been involved with since coming to Portobello.

His reception into the Church was a source of great joy for those within the shared parish of St John’s and St Mary Magdalene’s.


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