BY Ryan McDougall | January 11 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Saying it with a big smile: Malawian schoolboy thanks Airdrie pupils for the gift of a new home

A disabled Malawian boy has been given a new home thanks to the joint efforts of Airdrie pupils and parishioners from Coatbridge.

Chikonde Mpula has been sponsored by Meghan and Carleen Friel, pupils at St Margaret’s High School, Airdrie, for six years, and the girls visit him each year.

During their visit last year, Meghan noticed his house had fallen into serious disrepair after Malawi’s rainy season and feared it could collapse while he and his grandmother were inside.

She came up with a plan to help Chikonde and drafted in support from her school and from Fr Eamonn Sweeney, parish priest of St Patrick’s Church in Coatbridge.

The two communities decided to host a variety of different fundraising events to pay for bricks and a roof and, after several months of effort, the Malawian family is now living in their new, safe home.

Fr Sweeney held two functions in St Patrick’s Hall to raise funds, and the school also contributed through a ‘sponsor a brick’ project.

Having recently received photographs from a friend of Chikonde’s family, the fundraisers were delighted to see that the house’s progress was well underway.


Happy response

Upon seeing the photos of Chikonde at his new home, Carleen said: “This is amazing. The best news ever—look at his wee happy face.” Her sister Meghan added: “That’s incredible. Made my Christmas.”

Chikonde has come on leaps and bounds since the St Margaret’s pupils and their family started supporting him.

He is now able to walk, goes to school and is able to help out around the house by planting crops and taking on other small tasks.

When he first met Carleen, his grandmother and carer said it was the first time they had ever seen him crack a smile.

St Margaret’s High School headteacher Stephen Snee said: “It is good to see progress and real sustainable projects growing, all building on the foundations laid over the years by our community.

“I knew that Chikonde and his grandmother needed a new house immediately and we couldn’t afford to sleep on this one.”

He said that seeing the results of the project has been ‘a real Christmas gift for our entire community.’

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