Greetings from team Malawi 2016!

Today has been a very busy day indeed, travelling to see a community supported by another of WeSeeHope’s project partners.

We bundled into the jeep for a 2.5 hour drive from Blantyre (where we have been based) on what has been the hottest day of the trip so far! The intensity of the heat was shown when there was a 20 minute downpour but when we stepped outside afterwards, the ground was as dry as if it had never rained. It really did bring home to us the difficulties the local communities here face here trying to grow crops in such crippling heat.

Our first stop was to a pre-school for children aged 2-5, a key part of WeSeeHope’s work. A young girl about four years old welcomed us with a prayer followed by the group, including us, singing and dancing. “Follow the Leader” is a particular favourite of ours!

The teachers, who are volunteers from the community, have very simple materials but they are able to teach the children the basics of numeracy and literacy, which is crucial to their development. In Malawi it is absolutely essential to get these educational foundations set at this young age as although primary school is government funded, the children need to pass a basic test to gain entrance. Even if they do go to primary school, ultimately they are likely to quickly fall behind without this early development as the classes are huge.

we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_preschoolThe pre-schools give the young children a place to learn, play and to have a meal. There is a kitchen, toilet (well, a long drop!) and a classroom. When put in the context of a rural area which has little to no infrastructure, this is a real benefit to the kids and the future of the community. On a very practical level, the fact that the children are taken care of for the day means that their parents and guardians can then go out and work.
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We didn’t have long at the pre-school but after the very sad day we had the day before, it was a much needed boost for the team, giving us a sense of real positivity and hope. It is safe to say that these children completely melted our hearts!

After the pre-school, we visited George*, a qualified tailor who has been part of a vocational training scheme funded by WeSeeHope. George is an orphan and looks after his brother and sister, his sisters’ two children and his grandmother; he is only 19 years old. Through the scheme he has been able to build a more secure future for his family having been taught business and entrepreneurial skills. His business has grown phenomenally well and he is now able to rent a small shack to work from and he makes about 60,000 kwacha a month (the equivalent of £60). George has decided to train another tailor for free so they can have the same opportunity.

George really was an inspiration for us and cemented the reason why we raise so much money for this wonderful charity.

we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_village_progWe then went on to visit another VIP (Village Investors Programme) group, similar to the one we visited on Day 1. It was great to see how committed the group were to the savings and loans scheme – in just six months they had managed to save 138,000 kwacha (over £130) and one man now has 10 goats!

We heard some inspiring stories and demonstrations of how such a simple idea can make a community flourish. The chairwoman has been able to start buying materials to build a tin roof on her house so it doesn’t leak in the rain, and another lady has been able to buy a pig. The sheer commitment they showed was outstanding and it really did provide us with further insight as to how this programme works and how such a simple concept will give these people a new life.

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Our final stop of the day was another Kids Club – although run by a different project partner, the concept is the same as the one we visited during the previous couple of days.

As this club was nearer the city, the children spoke much better English. They performed songs, dance, acrobatics and drama. When the acrobatics started, you could really see our Health and Safety nature coming through! Meg tried to convince the boys to do an act but they were having none of it!

Interestingly, the teachers focused a lot on positivity and negativity at the club. For example, a young boy presented to us a drawing of his “life tree”. He explained where he was from, what he liked, his dreams and aspirations of being a doctor or a solider, but also the things that will stop him from achieving this. The teacher explained that they try hard to help the children to remain positive but also to help them understand their limitations. It is heart-warming to see that the children have big goals and with the support of the project partners and WeSeeHope, they will have a much bigger chance of achieving them.

Having had a particularly difficult day yesterday, we all agree that today has lifted our spirits again after all the fantastic progress we were lucky enough to see!

*name has been changed to protect confidentiality