I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work so stayed in this rural area for a few days. There I got to know the locals, the beautiful Mount Mulanje and the tea plantations.
But perhaps what stood out for me was the local children. Often with no shoes on their feet but always with smiles on their faces the children of Mulanje welcome visitors from afar knowing that they might be bringing something with them that might enhance their lives whether it be time or much needed medical equipment, clothing or footballs.
This is an area where many children do not have two parents let alone one parent, often looked after by extended family meaning that the little food they have has to make do even further.
I only saw one toy as I wandered round the local area and that was a milk carton fashioned into a pull along car with four wooden wheels and a piece of string. They play football with plastic bags rolled into shape and they carry strands of flowers or twigs to add to their games.
I didn’t hear any arguing or shouting only screams of laughter and shrill voices chasing after one another, it was humbling experience.
One of the items that I took was a small tub of bubbles and the local children loved this, their eyes would grow wide and their jumps would get higher and higher as they tried to catch the floating bubbles. They were grateful when I left them with the tub and I was overwhelmed at their thanks and their excitement. It wasn’t much in my eyes but it was great deal in theirs.
I had been volunteering my time in a local secondary school which is administered by FOMO Friends of Mulanje Orphans, Malawi. and I had only scratched the surface with what I learned in my short stay but what I do know is that this charity is making a difference to over 4000 small lives in the area. They welcome any help they gan get be it donations of cash, your time or the more practical gifts of clothing and medical equipment. This area suffered from floods recently so they know that with crops damaged food will be short later this year. The charity runs a range of schools and nurseries and training establishments such as a tailors and a music centre and it needs help to sustain itself. Just a little can make a difference.
Someone who has made a big difference is Brendan Rendall who two years ago ran the length of Malawi raising funds for a much needed science block for the school. This year his challenge is much bigger he his running across Africa to raise funds for a boys hostel at the school. There is already a girls hostel which I had the privilege to see on my visit. I wish Brendan all the luck in the world as he prepares for this fantastic challenge.