Motherwell (Scottish) volunteers help build Classrooms for Malawi0 Comments

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Posted on 22 Aug 2013 at 7:24am
Malawi School Children

Malawi School Children

A group from Motherwell were among a team of volunteers who helped build and renovate 16 classrooms for Malawi schoolchildren in just two weeks.

James Kelly, Fr Stephen Reilly and Tony and Barbara Begley travelled with a group of 27 volunteers to the impoverished South-East African country to work for the charity, Classrooms for Malawi.

The non-denominational charity were established in 2012, with the aim of improving the basic teaching environment for Malawi children by building and refurbishing classrooms.

James KellyThe charity believe education is the route out of poverty and their latest project focused on improving conditions at Mang’omba Primary School, Misesa Primary School and Namulenga Primary School, all near the Malawian city of Blantyre – named after explorer David Livingstone’s home town.

After liaising with the local education department to identify the most needy schools, each volunteer raised around £2000 to fund the trip and building work.

James Kelly, a retired resident of North Motherwell, was among a team of nine who helped renovate four classrooms in the remote village of Mang’omba, re-flooring, re-roofing, plastering and painting alongside workers from the local community.

James said: “My first reaction was shock. I had seen lots and lots of pictures of the level of poverty. It was 100 times worse than I expected.”

The school, which was built to house a couple of hundred pupils, now has over 1000 students enrolled.

James added: “We had a budget dependent upon donations made to us, but I probably drove past 100 schools the same as Mang’omba. And there’s another four classrooms in Mang’omba sitting in an awful state. This is the dilemma.”

Fr Reilly of St Bernadette’s parish in Motherwell also took time out to help renovate a further six classrooms in the mountainous village of Namulenga, while husband and wife Tony and Barbara helped build three new classes and renovate a further three in Misesa on the outskirts of Blantyre.

James added: “We had a phenomenal welcome. They were warm, friendly people. They have nothing and they would give what they did have to you. You realise how basic life really is. You don’t have electricity, you don’t have water, you don’t have clothing and you don’t have food. People are scratching out a living day to day. I can’t believe how resilient they are.”

The charity are currently recruiting volunteers for the next trip to Malawi.

James added: “Everyone has talents which can be used. Very few volunteers actually worked in the building trade, it was mainly students, retired people and teachers. It’s a life-changing experience and gives you a better understanding of how other people live. ”

Find out more about the work of the charity and how to volunteer at

Tony & Barbara Begley
New classroom







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