Renfrewshire Council

Classrooms for Malawi - John's story

Back in 2017, supervisory engineer, John Everett marked turning 50 a little bit differently to most and packed his bags for the trip of a lifetime to Malawi. Here's his story

John Everett Malawi
John with local children
As I approached my 50th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something unique. When I found some lost change down the side of a chair and put it in the Classrooms for Malawi collection in the Atrium at Renfrewshire House, I got chatting with colleagues there and thought it sounded like a great project.

I've always been grateful for my education and recognised the opportunities it has afforded me. This seemed like a great way to give something back and mark my birthday in a special way.

I paid for my own accommodation, flights, and expenses - as a sort of birthday present to myself. For material costs, I raised funds by "selling" the items required - £3 a brick, £50 for a door and so on - and put the sponsor's name on a drawing which was later hung in the finished building. 

Although physically and mentally exhausting, taking part was very rewarding. As well as laying bricks, I also built a doorway, assembled roof trusses and helped with the playground. Additionally, as there was no electricity or medical facilities in William Village at that time, I helped build a doctor's room for providing first aid to local people.

I've kept in touch with some of the people I met on the project, and it's been great to see the progress that has been made since then. The doctor's room now has a solar powered vaccination fridge which has been hugely helpful throughout the pandemic.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. What really amazed me was how different and yet somehow familiar life and people were at the same time. We really are all Jock Tamson's bairns!

Published on Thursday 7 July 2022