GIFTS that Give Back is an appeal for funds by the the Thondwe Community Partnership.

The partnership is a 15-year initiative of the Parish of Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn, which in 2023 helped repair damage caused by a cyclone in the Malawi community.

In November two members of the congregation, Denis Robson and Dave Kerr, travelled the 7,713 miles to the country to visit the partner villages to see how the link could be strengthened and lives improved.

Up to this week, more than £4,000 has been donated and this money goes directly to the partner Church of Central African Presbyterian, Thondwe.

Some of that cash has been spent on projects since the storm including: 650kg maize for three months to 22 people impacted by Cyclone Freddy; homes are being re-roofed; and 24 bags of cement will help with repairs to a cyclone-damaged bridge, which 1,000 children use to get to school.

In addition it has paid for a wide range of other projects.

Thondwe is a market town of about 25,000 but the church here works with about 1,000 adults and 2,000 primary pupils in a few villages.

Reverend Fraser Edwards, minister of Innerleithen, Traquair & Walkerburn Parish Church of Scotland, said: “Many years ago our church began a twinning partnership with a church in Malawi and that has now led to linking the primary school here with the school there and connections between with the health centres too.”

Dave Kerr said: “This appeal seemed to catch people’s imagination and many people say they prefer to give to the Thondwe congregation because they know who is receiving the funds compared to giving to national charities.

“They know the families, mostly by name and know that they will benefit in a big way.”

Mr Robson added: “We launched this appeal on our way back from Malawi and about 35 people donated though most people also give throughout the year.

“On our recent trip we met the families, whose thatched houses were in need of repair and will be re-roofed with metal ‘Wrinkly Roofs’.

Rev Edwards told this newspaper a number of “really interesting projects” were going on.

He added: “We had an incredible response to the Christmas gifts appeal and folk were buying things like chickens, solar lights and menstrual hygiene kits for Malawi instead of socks and selection boxes.

“The money also paid for a three-hour Christmas party, including games, singing and dancing for 130 children from the partner church organised by Memory Sathawa, the Sunday School Superintendent.

“The children listened to young pastors speak about the meaning of Christmas and extending love and sharing to others.

“So, the spirit of Christmas thrives in Thondwe at a time of food scarcity with the warmth of two congregations coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”

In addition money gifted to Thondwe, including gift aid, will pay for the following: Four families will have metal roofs installed on their houses in place of leaking thatch; two bicycles for pastoral care; two Solar Aid “light a house systems” to be installed bringing light to two families’ houses; five goats to be gifted to families to provide milk, cheese, offspring, meat and fertiliser for gardens; 13 girls to receive washable kit for menstrual needs for two to three years; one girl will have four-year secondary education at St Anthony’s School with ready to learn materials; 42 chickens will make a huge difference to families living in extreme poverty providing protein and income; 180kg of fertiliser; 54 curriculum textbooks for pupils in standard eight class; 22 further solar lights to help children do homework at night.