A comic book industry legend and Motherwell FC were among those who helped ensure a visit by North Lanarkshire secondary schools to Malawi was a huge success.
A total of 42 pupils and staff from seven schools, including Braidhurst High and Our Lady’s High in Motherwell and Bellshill Academy travelled to the Mulanje area of the east African country for a ten-day trip last month.
There they helped paint classrooms, build school gardens and provided first aid and Heartstart workshops as part of North Lanarkshire Council’s partnership with Shire Highlands Council.
Comic book writer Mark Millar, of Marvel’s Civil War, Supercrooks and Kingsman:The Secret Service fame, was one of the sponsors of the visit along with Denise Connelly of DC Publishing, and Frances Martin of Underground Inspection Services.
Meanwhile, Motherwell FC donated a set of strips which delighted pupils at Misanjo Secondary School.
Each of the North Lanarkshire schools is linked with a community day secondary school in Malawi, which take in the poorest children in the area.
Fundraising efforts ahead of their trip enabled each of the North Lanarkshire schools able to provide £500 for their partner school to fund a “Girls Go for Health” supervisor.
In Malawi only 14.9 per cent of adult females have a secondary education and the supervisor helps to encourage girls to attend school.
The link’s main aim is to provide ongoing and sustainable projects and the group took out classroom resources, including science equipment and materials for teaching Macbeth, and ran first aid and CPR training workshops, while the Malawian pupils taught them African dance and drama.
The North Lanarkshire pupils visited also a camp which supports disabled children under the age of five and helped hand-out bags of fortified porridge, as well as providing financial support and health products to Mulanje Mission Hospital and school, founded by Robert Clelland from Coatbridge in 1880, and Chichiri Women’s Prison.
NLC Malawi secondary schools coordinator Maureen Martin said: “The pupils and staff who took part in this visit were a credit to their schools and communities.
“One of the main challenges we face with trips like this is that we have limited time to make maximum impact and this requires all those involved to work together as a team – which they did incredibly well.
“We are sure that all of those on the visit left Malawi with a real sense of achievement.”
The schools’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed back home as Motherwell FC academy director Stevie Hammell retweeted posts by the group from Braidhurst High who had taken a set of donated strips to Malawi.
Braidhurst High teacher Jenna Young said: “As a team we all bonded so well and made friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks to our families, friends, staff and sponsors who helped make our visit possible and so successful.”