Unfortunately our time in Malawi is coming to an end and today was our final day seeing the fantastic work of WeSeeHope and their project partners. It certainly has been one to remember though (…as with every other day this trip!)

We had a five hour journey from Blantyre, where we have been based for the week, to Lilongwe, stopping at projects along the way. Some of us visited two pre-schools and a young man who had been through a vocational training scheme and the others witnessed a remarkable VIP group meeting.

we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2014_comparisonThe pre-schools, as they were yesterday, were amazing – it was a real privilege to visit the children and see what they have learnt. One that we visited has particular significance for 6DG as it was one that Campbell, Mark and Ellie visited back in September 2014. Just 18 months ago, the children in the very same pre-school were under-nourished, hungry, dishevelled and were being taught on a tarpaulin sheet (see image on left).

Thankfully, the school is now built (see image on right below); they have a kitchen, a classroom and a toilet block. Mark, CEO of WeSeeHope, explained that thewe_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_built children have come on leaps and bounds with their learning as they confidently recited the alphabet and months of the year.

We decided to teach the children “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” – after a rather slow start and after a couple of goes, the kids and teachers joined in (much to our relief!) As we left, having handed out loads of stickers to some very happy faces, they continued singing which was lovely.
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We then visited Kenneth*, an orphan who had been part of a vocational training programme and is now a trained carpenter, specialised in making beds, stools and tables. Kenneth charges 16,500 kwacha for a bed (the equivalent of £16.50…bit of a bargain!) What’s great is that he has taken on two apprentices who are also orphans, and he is training them in the same way he was. The cyclical nature of this is so simple, yet profound; it is wonderful to see children who have been given an opportunity to change their future, to give the same chance to others.

Whilst one group was embarrassing themselves singing and dancing, the rest of the team visited a VIP group who were undertaking their first “share out” where they divide the profits between them. There was so much excitement in the atmosphere, with some very big smiles; it was truly heart-warming. Through the saving and loans scheme, they had already boughtwe_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_school_children livestock, purchased windows for their houses, and been able to put children into school.

The group had managed to save 934,000 kwacha (£934) in just eight months. That amount of money out here is just unbelievable, it’s no wonder their smiles were so big! There was a real sense of gratitude, which was so humbling. One young lady, who had we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_school_children3been told by her parents not to join the VIP as they believed it would never work, told how her mother now plans on joining the group because she has seen how well it works. This was such a wonderful example, among many, of how simple programmes such as these can really change the way people think and live, even the older generation.

All this positivity was topped off with a very “This is Africa” moment (we’ve had many on this trip!) when the project manager fell off a push bike on a very busy road and had to get in our car that was already full to the brim with luggage so we had to put Mark in the boot!

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Today has been such a great way to end what has been a fantastic, eye-opening and uplifting trip. Between us we were able to see the foundations that are being put in place for the youngest generation through the pre-schools right up to improving the quality of life for the eldest generation, all in the same community.

We are all so grateful for the experience and can’t wait to share it with the rest of the 6DG team when we are home. Goodbye from Malawi!

*name has been changed to protect confidentiality