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.