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1 May, 2008

Giving Nation Winners Visit Malawi with Sightsavers International

As overall winners of the 2007-8 Giving Nation Awards,students and teachers from Felpham Community College West Sussex, embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Malawi in February to experience the work of leading blindness charity Sightsavers International.

‘I could imagine my whole world falling apart if I lost my sight so suddenly but Kondwani was so hopeful, he was really inspiring."

"Our students have returned buzzing and even more inspired to make a difference!"

Each year Giving Nation runs the Giving Nation Awards inviting schools to write online diaries sharing their experiences of fundraising, volunteering and campaigning on behalf of charities. Each year Giving Nation works with a charity partner, an organisation who provides a week's trip for a winning charity team to directly experience the charity's work in the U.K or overseas.

The charity partner for the 2007-2008 awards was Sightsavers International, the UK based charity that works on the prevention and cure of blindness and sight impairment, 75% of which is treatable in the developing world.

The charity team of students and staff from Felpham Community College spent 10 days travelling around Malawi learning how the work of Sightsavers has a truly life-changing impact on individuals, families and communities through hospital, community and school-based projects. Globally only 2% of children who are disabled attend school. At the Montfort School in Blantyre, Southern Malawi the team had the opportunity to meet some of the children whose prospects Sightsavers are transforming by providing specialist teaching and materials to 4-21 year olds.

Elena, 17, met 21 year old Kondwani who lost his sight overnight due to Malaria. "After just one week at the school he could already write the entire Braille alphabet. He was amazing and inspiring and absolutely determined to become a lawyer. I can't wait to hear about every thing he does in the future," said Elena who has played a key role in speaking to the media about the trip.

Gary Treharne, business teacher at Felpham added," The teachers at Montfort School are hugely committed to teaching children with a wide range of sight issues and levels of ability. It is crazy that the students we met are amongst the lucky ones and far too many more children are being denied the basic right of education."

Felpham's charity team assisted with eyesight screenings at a school in Nchalo where they helped to identify cataracts and other visual impairments in over 70 children and adults from the community. "The testing took place in the local school but the children they tested went home to their villages and before we knew it there was a queue of parents and grandparents waiting to have their eyes tested too. The screening is essential in identifying eye health issues early on, the students did a great job." Felicity Tyson of Giving Nation explained.

"I was really proud that, after doing the screenings for a morning, I diagnosed some one with progressive cataracts - and I was right! The man was then referred to a doctor so he can get the treatment he needs." Myles, 17 added.

Back in the U.K the charity team have taken their experiences and learning back to school.

As Barbara Ede, bursar and member of the charity team explained: "We have decided to donate some of the proceeds raised at our charity fashion show to Sightsavers and the students have lots of fantastic ideas of how to keep supporting the charity and plans to keep in touch with the schools we visited in Malawi. They have returned even more inspired to make a difference!"

This could be you! Enter this year's Giving Nation Awards and your charity team could win a trip to the Cameroon rainforest to support the work of the Rainforest Foundation! To find out more visit www.g-nation.co.uk For more information and your school's log-in details call 0207 566 4151 / email felicity.tyson@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk


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