Falkirk mum and son's Kiltwalk efforts raise money to educate Malawian schoolgirls

Proceeds from a 16.5-mile charity walk completed by a Falkirk mum and her son will go a long way towards educating Malawian schoolgirls.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:45 pm

Mariot Dallas, 64, was joined by her boy, Tom, 27, for the Mighty Stride version of The Kiltwalk in Glasgow on September 26.

The duo entered the challenge in the hope of raising cash for the Mamie Martin Fund (MMF).

The charity was founded in 1993 by Mariot’s parents, Margaret and John Sinclair, in memory of her mother, Mamie, a teacher who worked to empower women through education in the African country in the 1920s.

Mariot Dallas and her son, Tom, took on The Kiltwalk's Mighty Stride in aid of the Mamie Martin Fund and raised enough money to support two girls throughout their secondary schooling in Malawi. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Mariot and Tom’s efforts generated £1567 in donations, which has since been fully match-funded by The Hunter Foundation and The Kiltwalk, giving them a final total of £3134.

Former Falkirk High School teacher Mariot said: “This means we have raised enough to support two girls throughout the full four years of their secondary schooling in Malawi.”

Brought up in Tarbet in Argyll and Bute, Mamie Martin left for Malawi with husband Jack a century ago to start a new life.

She gave birth to daughter Margaret six years later, but sadly died in childbirth in 1928 while pregnant with a baby boy.

Margaret returned to Scotland as an adult, but a trip back to Malawi with her husband sparked her desire to launch the MMF.

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The charity is now managed by a Scotland-based board of trustees who are responsible for the governance and strategy of the volunteer-led organisation.

The MMF helps girls in secondary education in Malawi through a partnership with the Synod of Livingstonia and has so far supported more than 650 youngsters.

Since January, when the current school year started, the organisation has paid the fees of 139 girls across six schools, including seven pupils at a school for deaf children in Embangweni.

Amid the pandemic, MMF volunteers have also assisted schools with hand-washing facilities, supplied face masks and covered the cost of trips to and from boarding schools.

Mariot, the MMF’s co-convenor and trustee, is immensely proud of the role her grandmother played in ensuring young women have access to classrooms.

She said: “When my granny went to Africa she realised women were getting a raw deal, and she was quite keen girls should get a chance to go to school as well as boys.

“The big thing for us is that less than 100 years ago she was saying girls need to go to school and women need to be educated. It’s still a big issue.

“There’s a good programme about the climate emergency and the education of girls, because the choices girls who go through secondary school make as adults are influenced by their education.

“They probably won’t have as many children, will be engaged in the democratic process and their children are likelier to go to school and make healthier choices.

“The dark side is, if children don’t get educated, they have a very early marriage – girls as young as their early teens can get pregnant in Malawi.

“There is evidence now that supporting girls in secondary school transforms lives, challenges poverty and inequality and even has a positive impact on climate change as more women use their vote and become politically active.”

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