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EveryChild’s Senior Media & PR Officer Chloe Kay recently travelled to Malawi to meet children and families supported by EveryChild. Chloe was accompanied by press photographer Matt Writtle who volunteers for EveryChild. Together they gathered case studies and photography to highlight the issues facing children in Malawi and EveryChild’s interventions.
Friday 24th September 2010 - by Chloe
Having never visited Africa before, I was so excited to finally touch down at Lilongwe Airport after months of planning. In the UK, news from Malawi is rare and most notably on issues such as Madonna’s adoptions of David and Mercy and most recently the gay couple imprisoned for entering into a civil partnership. Other than that I had read that Malawi is regarded as the warm heart of Africa, but I was also sadly aware ofthe AIDs crisis that has ravaged the country. I was looking forward to meeting our colleagues, the children and families supported by EveryChild and learning more about the country and culture.
Saturday 25th September 2010 by Chloe
We immediately came across an 11-year-old boy called Robert (pictured) selling small bags of water at the side of the road. Robert came to Lilongwe from his village some time ago- his parents both died and no one was taking proper care of him so he took it upon himself to leave in search of work and food. Robert talked about being hungry in the village and said that he gets by in Lilongwe by living with some older boys. His situation is so precarious and he seemed a very sad little boy. I wondered how he could be helped. Thereis no magic wand that can lift Robert out of his immediate situation, but gradually Constable Rashid and social workers will gain Robert’s trust and work together with him to build a safer life.
Monday 27th September 2010 by Chloe
Thomas, Project Coordinator for EveryChild Bulala, explained that most families in Bulala depend on farming small plots of land for survival but farming has been affected negatively in recent years by increased prices of seeds and fertilisers, changes in climate and declining soil fertility. The average family income per month is about MK2000 (£8.40). The total price a family needs to spend on seeds and fertiliser for a year is about MK40000 (£168) - their annual income is MK24000 (£100). This discrepancy leads to family breakdown- forcing men to migrate to South Africa to work illegally, children to leave home to work as child labourers and girls to marry from an early age to take the pressure off their struggling families.
Tuesday 28th September 2010 by Chloe
One of the issues that Agnes spoke mostly about is that of accessing her Anti Retroviral medication each month. She simply cannot afford the transport costs to travel to the clinic each month. To stay healthy she has one choice, and that is to walk for four days to access her medicine. Whilst the Malawi Government provide the medication for free, they do not support people with travel costs to be able to actually access their medicine. When times were hardest Agnes’ youngest son Mtenje, then aged 9, droppedout of school to work as a cattle herder. He was discovered after three months of working by EveryChild and returned to his family and school.
Wednesday 29th September 2010 - by Chloe
The second child I met was Gift (pictured) a 14-year-old cattle herder. Gift left home and school to herd cattle five years ago and has now missed too much school to ever be able to return. He sleeps on his employer’s property and works seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. His mother lives 10km away and he sees her when he can which is not very often. Gift’s father threw the family out when Gift was 9 and his mother is mentally unstable and unable to support herself or her children. As a 9-year-old child Gift took on the responsibility of providing for his mother and younger sister.
Thursday 30th September 2010 by Chloe
We started our day by visiting another CBCC. I really enjoy seeing these places in action. The children are having such fun and learning through play and song and the volunteer caregivers are amazing. I can also see how much of a lifeline the daily porridge is for vulnerable families, particularly in times of drought. At this centre I met Cofeness (pictured playing with children), a caregiver who has volunteered every week day for the past four years. Her high levels of energy and infectious laugh chimes with the little children in her care and it is clear to all how much she loves her role.
Friday 1st October 2010 by Chloe
Our last day in the countryside…and still so many people to meet! We started the day by visiting former child labourers, now young men, who were rescued by EveryChild and routine child labour inspections a number of years ago. I met three young men that morning, each now trained in a trade which they are all using to earn a decent living. A carpenter, bricklayer and tinsmith, all buzzing with excitement at the skills they have learnt and the futures they can now see for themselves.
Saturday 2nd October 2010 by Chloe
‘I’m staying happy with my life. My mum is loving and caring and I never want to go back to the streets. There are things I need though. Sometimes I’m sent back from school because I don’t havea uniform. I don’t have enough clothes to go to school and I only have slippers to wear instead of shoes. But I feel happy that you got me back home from street life.
There are still children who come to convince me to go back to the street but I just tell them no, I want to go to school. I want to become a lawyer.’