Our final day saw us visit a community where the project was further into year 2 but it was struggling badly when Mark Glen and Oswald Malunda last visited six months ago. They’d made considerable strides since then with a project leader at the top of his game. It was also the first time we had a Chief in attendance – it’s essential that the local Chiefs and Headmen are on board – which meant that it was by far our biggest crowd, approximately 400 people were surrounding us by the end.

malawiblogpic17_6dg_hopehivWe started with the by-now traditional Ellie and Campbell singing and dancing with the local welcoming committee, straight out of the car. They always love it when we join in.

They put on a really wide-ranging show with kids, young adolescents and adults all involved. One play described how, when an orphaned child is being abused, they can now report this abuse to the AA Club who escalates it to the Chief and the Police.

malawiblogpic18_6dg_hopehiv

Campbell joined the Chief in presenting five orphans with school uniforms that the AA Club had raised money to buy. These kids had been found in the community not being supported properly and lacking the basic tools for an education.

We ended our journey with two home visits. The first was with Osbo, who’s 9, one of the orphans who’d received a school uniform as well as a notebook and some pencils. He lived with his grandparents with his little sister – they don’t have much but he wants to be a doctor and they’ve got hope and ambition.

malawiblogpic19_6dg_hopehivThe final home visit was to a twelve year old whose mum couldn’t afford school books and whose dad had recently passed away. But he’s going to school now and he wants to be a policeman. His sister wants to be a nurse. Mum is going to join a VSLA group to see if she can get a small business started. Slowly but surely, they’re making progress.

And so, after just four days, our time visiting projects was over. We’d seen some difficult things but it was never hopeless. We could always find some optimism even in desperate situations. We were particularly encouraged at the number of strong women in the community who are taking the lead – whilst the men are out looking for work, the women are coming together to build a stronger, more malawiblogpic20_6dg_hopehivsustainable community. It’ll be a long road but with these inspiring people at the forefront, we can help them to get there.