BY Daniel Harkins | July 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

7-ST-MARGARET'S-MALAWI

Malawians make a song and dance for pupils

PUPILS from four Lanarkshire schools were treated to traditional African dance, drama and food by Malawi villagers two years to the day after they were found starving to death in their homeland.

The Africans were plunged into difficulties after the only male in their village died resulting in them losing their property and land rights.

With the help of Coatbridge-based charity Aiming Higher in Malawi, and with the assistance of Labour MSP for Central Scotland Siobhan McMahon, Airdrie school St Margaret’s High provided food, crops, fertiliser and funds to help the villagers of Makhoza in Malawi’s southern region.

St Margaret’s pupils and staff set-up a Catholic Women’s Cooperative in Makhoza, which in two years has managed to grow enough crops for the villagers to feed themselves, with a surplus left over to sell.

The Lanarkshire school was initially drawn to the village by a young HIV Positive woman, Ruth Samson, who was being sponsored by the St Margaret’s pupils. Ruth was an outcast of the village but through her relationship with the generous Scottish pupils, who have visited Malawi a number of times over the years, the community was saved. Thanks to the fundraising efforts, Ruth now has a new house with a painting by a local Malawian artist on the side of it.

In appreciation of their efforts, some of the Malawian villagers visited the Airdrie school to perform in front of St Margaret’s pupils and their counterparts from Airdrie Academy, Coatbridge High School and St Ambrose High School, Coatbridge.

Catherine McNee from St Margaret’s said she couldn’t believe how far the Malawian villagers (above) had come.

“Two years ago these women were sitting with their children lifeless in the dust in despair and now they have put on such a lively and energetic show and are feeding us with crops they are taking directly from the ground,” she said. “It is also good to see the children happy and without their bloated bellies.”

When the Makhoza women were asked at the start of the programme what was their greatest need, they asked for a shrine to praise God and decided to pray for their friends in Scotland every day for a year. Their faith, they said, has encouraged them to produce wonders and they extended their thanks and prayers to all of their Scottish friends.

Andrew McKay, an English teacher at St Margaret’s, spoke of the incredible transformation of the Malawian women’s lives in such a short period.

“The amazing thing is that two years on these woman are feeding us,” he said. “Ruth was an outcast in the village but now she is leader, the main woman. They were on the brink of starvation and now they are cultivating land the size of two football pitches.”

daniel@sconews.co.uk

 

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