Malawi bound – a load of Borders generosity to help the less fortunate

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FIFTY-ONE sewing machines, 62 bicycles, 79 bales of bedding and 691 boxes left Walkerburn by container last week bound for the Presbytery of Zomba in Malawi.

Some 76 boxes of shoes, 62 of craft materials, 202 of books, and 15 full of hospital supplies were included in the 691 boxes which, along with photocopiers, computers, musical instruments, DIY tools and garden equipment, packed the huge container. All items were donated by church members and friends, with the shoes gifted by a local firm. Melrose and Peebles presbytery had also raised the £8,500 needed to cover transport costs.

Goods came to Walkerburn from Stow to West Linton, from Glasgow and from Shropshire, looking for a space in the container. Local businesses offered the use of a warehouse and a van, among other donations in kind.

“We had to order a larger container than originally planned,” said Paul Faris of Innerleithen who co-ordinated the project throughout.

He continued: “I knew that Borderers had a reputation for generosity and caring for those less well off than themselves, but even so, I have been overwhelmed by the response, and the folk in Malawi are really excited and can scarcely wait until late May early June when the container is due to arrive.”

Throughout February and early March donations were delivered to the former Walkerburn Church where Paul and his team checked and packed every item. Everything was then moved to two local warehouses, carefully placed so that packing into the container would make life easy for those unpacking and delivering the donations to churches in Zomba. Many Melrose and Peebles churches are twinned with churches across Zomba.

Tom Fairbairn, moderator of Melrose and Peebles presbytery, congratulated Paul Faris, the Reverend Jim Wallace and their team on the smooth, detailed organisation of the project.

Mr Fairbairn, from Peebles, said: “We are very grateful to The Raven Trust for their assistance with this project. They guided us through the customs paperwork as well as how best to load the container in order to ensure that each item reached the place or the family nominated to receive a particular item.

“The involvement of more than 50 members of the presbytery and friends in receiving, packing, labelling, recording, moving and loading each item has been heart-warming, and the commitment by members of the Zomba Partnership Committee has been amazing.”

Pupils from St Ronan’s in Innerleithen and Walkerburn primary schools followed the project through school chaplain, the Reverend Janis Faris, with some pupils helping with loading boxes into the container.