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Published: February 13th 2010
While at dinner in Cardiff I received a phone call from my mum calling, during that garbled, somewhat confusing and rushed conversation (as I was out with friends and we were grabbing a bite to eat before heading off to the cinema) she let me know about the letters I’d received, the parents of a friend that had called to offer help with my trip and something about my granddad getting uniforms from church for me.
When I got home I got the full story as to what had happened; while at an event at his church, my granddad got talking to his Pastor Bill Bygroves, the conversation at some point turned to the year out I was planning. Bill, who has previously done charitable work in Africa (though not Malawi), was impressed by what I was planning on doing and wanted to help. It should be mentioned that Bill, as well as being the pastor at Bridge Chapel, is also the pastor for Liverpool Football Club. At the end of every season when the kit changes, the old unused kit is donated away, Bill takes part in this and generously wondered if I’d like some of the Kit to give away during my trip, I jumped at the chance and we arranged a good time for me to come and pick it up.
Liverpool FC was generous with what they gave, shorts, shirts, socks, for both children and adults, as well as 10 rain jackets and tracksuit bottoms, with only two conditions; we couldn’t sell them and we had to send pictures back. We spend an afternoon organising and packing the kits at my granddad’s (a wonder that he allowed them in his house, he’s an avid Everton fan) before vac-packing into the bags they’d taken to Malawi in (accounting for a full bag and almost half my allowed baggage).
Because I didn’t know Malawi that well when I arrived, I couldn’t know where the best place to donate them to would be. So I asked Mrs Kumdana, the national co-ordinator for St John Malawi, and who I was staying with when I first arrived, to give me a hand in choosing a school or club to give them to, who in turn talked with Fred Demster, who I work with on the Schools program. Between them they decided it would be best to donate them to one of the schools St John has trained and has a First Aid club with.
Naizi Community day secondary school near Bangwe and Naizi Primary, consists of two buildings around an open space and a sports pitch just up the hill, teaching from forms 1-4 (years 10-13) the students are taught in the 3 basic classrooms. The schools program visited in 2007 teaching 30 students in the principles of first aid, since then 20 of the students are involved in a first aid club to keep the skills fresh.
Yesterday we went to handover the kits, the event started at 10:30 (even though it was supposed to start at 10:00). As well as myself and Fred, Mrs Kumdana, Mr Kuyesa (the councils vice hon. Secretary), and a journalist from the National newspaper attended. Once organised, we were met by the Principal, Deputy, and the patrons of the first aid club who led us into one of the classrooms to meet with the members of the club that did not have classes or exams. The principal, Fred, Mrs Kumdana,a nd Mr Kuyesa made speeches, then invited me to say a few words (those of you that have heard me speak publically can confirm I’m not the most fluid or relaxed of speakers) I stumbled through a off the cuff speech about why and where the kits came from and expressed how I hoped the students would be motivated by the gift, before quickly resuming my seat. Mr Kuyesa made the presentation to the patron, the kits were handed out for photos with the students and a prayer said. Like all good St John events, the 30 min presentation eventually ended up as being closer to 2 hours.
What we donated was about 2 full teams of kits (ish) but there were still a few items left over, the jackets are going to be donated to the division to use on duty and the odd miss match of shirts will be used as prizes for the First Aid competitions we are hoping to be running around April time. The face of the kids when they were given the kits was great, I’m really glad that I was given the opportunity to give them out and I would to again express my thanks to Bill and LFC (even if they did beat us on the 6th) and to show this I will be sending the photos and Flames shirts soon.
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