What a journey it’s been, working with and for all the people of Open Arms since 2008! Once more it’s time for me to say goodbye but not forever as I leave the UK fundraising team to manage the charity my parents founded. Thank you to all the friends and supporters of Open Arms who have joined me along the way!
I am moving on to manage the charity Care in Action which my parents founded to help children living in difficult circumstances to have better opportunities and ultimately succeed at living independent lives.
In some ways my journey to Malawi started out with my parents’ example, as they sparked my interest in working in developing countries and finding the best way to help, even on a shoe-string budget! As my Dad retires it’s important to me that their charity continues to support children, carers and partnerships in Ukraine and Malawi.
Working with Open Arms has connected me with exceptional people, brought amazing experiences and taught me so much. When I left Malawi I shared highlights of my eight years there and why the work of Open Arms is so important to me. Ultimately it comes down to lives and whole landscapes that are better because we pull together.
My favourite Malawian song says ‘Tikokere pamodzi…’ - ‘Let’s pull together…’ and it’s great fun to introduce this in schools and to get an assembly of children doing the motions and singing along. At schools I’ve had some good laughs as children get to know household items from Malawi and are impressed by what life is like in Malawi and why we should help.
Schools do so much good for Malawi, and our partnerships have brought me to the grand campuses of Kingswood School, Lancing College and George Watson’s College. Schools like Ashville, QES in Kirby Lonsdale and Stewarts Melville are also good friends of Open Arms. Each of these schools make Malawi a valued part of their community in truly inspiring ways.
Smaller schools play an important role too, and one of my proudest moments as a fundraiser was when I was leaving a primary school after leading an assembly, and a young girl came up to me and said ‘When I grow up I want to be like you and help children in Malawi’.
Growing the volunteer opportunities with the Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies by working with the CSR team has also been incredibly rewarding. The increased number of volunteers means vital funding so our work in Malawi can extend into new communities.
I couldn’t mention each person and partnership that has made a lasting impression during my time as fundraiser, from SMBC Aviation Capital and Children’s Corner Nurseries, to the volunteers who organised quizzes in London to keep the funds coming in for children in Malawi, but an appreciation for each of them will stay with me.
It is not easy to leave the lovely and committed Open Arms Malawi team in the UK. Claire, Judith and the supportive Board members and office volunteers each give a lot of care and expertise to their work, and I know that Malawi will continue to be well supported because of their efforts.
Thank you to those who shared the journey with me, and for the tremendous support you give so children in Malawi can have a brighter future!