The morning of day 3 saw us visit a project that had just ended their first year. We started with some more pre-schoolers but malawiblogpic14_6dg_hopehivthe difference between a project that’s just starting year 2 with one that’s in year 4 was profound. There are still lots of achingly cute small faces but there are more distended bellies, the clothes are dirtier, they’ve got land for the school and baked the bricks but they’ve not started building the school. They’ve had their first harvest but it was only 3 bags of maize which won’t last long. There’s no kitchen to cook in yet either so they’re still using an outdoor fire and pot which isn’t so good with the rainy season looming.

The guardians and teachers didn’t have the same tall, proud body language as those who’d seen their community transformed through years of their work. But the hope is still there, the people are engaged, they’re on the right path.

malawiblogpic15_6dg_hopehiv

Next on the schedule was a visit to a neighbouring village to meet a couple of young lads, 15 and 14, who had recently started a carpentry course. Their blue uniforms imbued them with an identity, a symbol to the village that they’re learning and will be earning money soon. As news of our arrival spread, other children started to arrive. It was a big shock for us to realise that they were the same kids we’d danced and played and bonded with on the previous afternoon. We’d seen them in a safe, protected, neutral environment at Kids Club where they can play and learn. To see what they go back to was hard to take; it’s really impossible to describe what having nothing looks like. We didn’t take any pictures as it’s too desperate. It’s still not hopeless – they’ve been found, they’re getting help, there’s a process they’re going through. We’ve seen what one rung and two rungs above desperate looks like and whilst it’s still hard, it’s much better two years’ down the line.

We ended on a positive with a visit to Frankie’s house, the 15 year old carpenter, with his mum. It doesn’t look like much but they’ve now got the best house in the village: two windows and a door that locks. They’re now just that little bit safer than they were before.

malawiblogpic16_6dg_hopehiv