Time for Reflection

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10 September 2013.

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Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour

Good afternoon. The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leaders today are Vann Smith and Ciara Bradley, pupils of St Ambrose high school in Coatbridge, who are representing the healthy lifestyle Scotland Malawi project.

Vann Smith (St Ambrose High School, Coatbridge and Scotland Malawi Project—Healthy Lifestyle):

Thank you, Presiding Officer, for giving Ciara and me the chance to take part in time for reflection.

We are speaking on behalf of the healthy lifestyle project, which is run by Mr Charles Fawcett and supports several projects in Malawi. School pupils and local teachers raise money to help the projects and go to Malawi to volunteer. I was lucky to be able go there this year to coach rugby and help to arrange a festival.

Children in Malawi do not have many things such as toys, books or clothes, and they are often hungry, but they really value education and the chance to take part in games such as rugby. In this country we take education for granted, but in Malawi children are prepared to walk for miles for the chance to go to school.

Overall, my impression of Malawian people can be summed up in two lists. First, they are welcoming, friendly, artistic, innovative, hard-working, resourceful and patriotic. Secondly, they are poor, starving, needy, threadbare and unhealthy and have a short life expectancy and low expectations.

My reflection when I came home was to realise that Scotland is a wealthy, influential and charitable country and we must do everything in our power to help Malawi to eliminate the second list.

Ciara Bradley (St Ambrose High School, Coatbridge, and Scotland Malawi Project—Healthy Lifestyle):

Along with Vann, I recently had the opportunity to volunteer with the healthy lifestyle project in Malawi. That was made possible via support from North Lanarkshire educational trust scheme, local fundraisers, and St Patrick’s and St Augustine’s Roman Catholic parishes in Coatbridge. My family and parish and the schools of St Augustine’s and St Ambrose have helped to make me aware of poverty, here and beyond.

I feel that it is good to try to make a positive contribution to the development of Malawi, a country greatly disabled by its colonised past. Like other countries, Malawi can be viewed as an opportunity to look beyond our selfishness and to change things by reaching out and sharing what we have with our fellow brothers and sisters around the globe. My experience in Malawi, especially in visiting the women’s prison, brings to mind the reflection that how we live in the west shapes how others survive elsewhere, as well as the moral principle, “Live simply that others may simply live.” That is the lesson that I have learned from being able to share in the healthy lifestyle project. We thank those who made that possible, particularly our fundraisers, teachers at the school and Mr Charles Fawcett.

On behalf of Vann and me, thank you, Presiding Officer, for this opportunity to take part in time for reflection.