Hello everybody! I would like to share our most recent news from my annual visit to Malawi, November 1st to November 16th 2015. This most recent trip was particularly special as I was accompanied by two of our trustees; Collette Denby and Jessica Brook. It was so lovely to get to share the experiences with two friends, who have been so actively involved in supporting the project, since the story began back in 2009.
Since my last visit in April 2014, it had been one and a half years since I had seen the children and mothers. Fortunately, the foster care families had not been alone all this time. From January 2014 to December 2014, Zoe Giarraputo, an Australian social worker who was living in Malawi, volunteered as project manager. The foster families were also blessed with two other visits from sponsors and friends of the charity; Vicki Giarraputo (Zoe’s mum) and Emma Murphy (whose photos you will have seen). I was quite apprehensive about this visit as I was leaving my six-month-old baby boy (Elia) for the first time and for two weeks. It was very difficult to leave him but then to see first-hand the impact of four orphaned children, who had been living alone with no parents/guardians, being welcomed into our third home, made everything worthwhile.
After not seeing the children for so long, I couldn’t believe how grown-up, healthy and full of confidence they all were. Some of the older boys, who have been with us since August 2011, were even beginning to talk in English. It was clear that all the children were really valuing this experience as an educational opportunity and the key to a better future. Attending school, studying and passing standards were at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Seeing the children’s lives enriched by this experience accounted for just how successful the project is and this is thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors such as yourselves.
In addition to our existing two foster care homes, run by Martha and Bertha, this November we began our third foster care home. Our new mother, Getrude, lives in Area 49 and is a close friend of Martha. Getrude’s own children have grown up and she was very keen to be given the means in which she can support other local needy children. The new children that we welcomed into Getrude’s home are all brothers from the same family who have been struggling alone for some time. The look of relief when we visited the children and said we could help was immense and an absolute pleasure to witness. We now support seventeen children in our foster care homes.
Over the last year and a half we have been sending out money to build a boys’ quarter adjoined to Bertha’s house. It was lovely to see that the extension was finished to a good standard and that Bertha had created a little garden at the back of the house. Another lovely development was having the opportunity to see the local church roof finished, this is something one of our sponsors, who has visited the homes, sent money out specifically for. This November, as well as developing the third foster care home (buying furniture and other necessities) we also supported a few other developments such as; putting a roof on an outdoor bathroom, pigs for a pig business to support the foster care home, additional furniture – study tables and chairs and a general shopping trip.
We also had a lovely day out, one of our sponsors had sent out money for a Christmas present, when we asked what the children would like, they all wanted a day out where they could swim, so for a special treat we took the children and foster mothers to a swimming pool for the day. This was absolutely brilliant – all had a day out that they will remember.
Just next to one of our foster care homes is Tilinanu, the girls orphanage, ran by the charity Tilinanu. Quite a few of our boys’ sisters are residents at the girls orphanage. The two charities continue to work together and create opportunities where the children can meet with their siblings. During our visit we also made time to go and see the girls and say hello.
Finally, no trip is complete without a visit to the villages to provide care packages to the elderly. I always find this trip difficult, humbling yet very rewarding. Village life has many positives, there is always a lovely sense of community and belonging, children and adults alike welcome you with open arms and big smiles. Yet it is always a reminder of just how poor Malawi is – the suffering of those in need is painfully apparent. Life is hand to mouth and it is not unusual to witness extreme suffering due to lack of funds. This year, guided by the village chief and foster mothers, we handed out 40 care packages to the elderly most in need. We also supported two mothers, one with a very sick child, with transport to hospital.
All I can say is, a great big thank you, for your continued generosity and kindness, I feel very privileged to see first-hand how your money is being used to support and change the lives of children in need. As always 100% of donations go directly to the cause.
On behalf of all at Malawi Foster Care, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!